Thermal and Illumination Environments of Lunar Pits and Caves: Models and Observations From the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractLunar collapse pits may provide access to subsurface lava tubes of unknown extent. We present Diviner Lunar Radiometer measurements showing that the Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Ingenii pits exhibit elevated thermal emission during the night, ∼100 K warmer than the surrounding surface. Using these data, along with computational thermophysical models, we characterize the thermal environment inside pits and potential caves. Near the equator, peak day‐time temperatures on regolith‐covered pit floors can potentially reach >420 K, whereas temperatures beyond the opening in permanent shadow would maintain a nearly constant temperature of ∼290 K, similar to that of a blackbody cavity in radiative equilibrium. Thermal IR measurements such as those of Diviner can readily detect pit thermal signatures but would be insensitive to the existence of caves they may host, as the latter would only induce a 0.1 K increase to night‐time temperatures of the overlying surface.

publication date

  • July 28, 2022

has restriction

  • hybrid

Date in CU Experts

  • February 11, 2023 10:33 AM

Full Author List

  • Horvath T; Hayne PO; Paige DA

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0094-8276

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1944-8007

Additional Document Info


  • 49


  • 14