top of page



Gruppo di progetto:

1. Paolo Galantini (Team Leader)

2. Silvia Ancilotti

3. Alessandra Gorgoroni

4. Anna Ochalek

5. Giada Silvaroli

6. Sara Stillavato

7. Alessio Vannozzi

8. Erika Ziaco

9. Alice Zilaghe

Lunar caves – Lunar caves can mitigate the extreme temperatures experienced on the lunar surface during the day and night. The Moon undergoes significant thermal fluctuations, with temperatures reaching highs of around 130 degrees Celsius during the day and dropping to very low temperatures, around -170 degrees Celsius, during the lunar night.


Lunar caves provide a sheltered environment where temperatures are more stable compared to the surface. The interior of a cave can maintain a relatively constant and moderated temperature compared to the external thermal variation. This is due to the caves' ability to thermally insulate the internal air, protecting it from direct sunlight and thermal radiation. Caves also offer protection from the hazardous solar radiation, cosmic radiation, and micrometeorite impacts that pose significant risks on the lunar surface. This makes caves potentially safe locations for future human space missions or lunar bases.


The size and depth of the caves influence the extent to which they can mitigate extreme temperatures. Larger and deeper caves can provide greater thermal stability, while smaller caves may have internal temperature variations more similar to the surface. It is important to note that, although cave temperatures are more moderate compared to the surface, precautions may still be necessary for thermal control and energy balance within the caves, especially if establishing long-term settlements or bases. The temperature range within lunar caves can vary, but it tends to be more stable and moderated compared to the external temperatures on the lunar surface. Caves provide a natural form of thermal insulation that helps reduce temperature fluctuations.


In some preliminary research, temperatures inside lunar caves have been estimated to range from -20 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. However, these estimates can vary depending on the size and depth of the caves, their geographical location, and other local factors. The thermal insulation provided by the caves protects the internal air from direct solar radiation and the thermal radiation characteristic of the lunar surface. This helps stabilize temperatures inside the caves and reduce the extent of thermal fluctuations compared to external conditions. It is important to note that deeper caves tend to have more stable temperatures than shallower caves. This is because external temperatures have less influence on deeper regions, where greater thermal stability prevails.


Further study and research are needed to obtain a more precise understanding of the temperature range within lunar caves, as well as to identify regional and local variations. However, lunar caves still represent a promising option for providing a relatively stable environment and mitigating the extreme temperatures of the lunar surface.


Shape – Spherical or domed structures: These shapes offer structural strength, efficient use of materials, and effective distribution of internal forces. They can also provide good radiation shielding properties and distribute pressure evenly. Dome-shaped structures have been proposed as potential habitats for lunar bases.


Cylindrical structures: Cylinders offer simplicity in construction and efficient use of internal space. They provide a stable structure that can be easily pressurized. Cylindrical modules can be connected to form larger habitats and can be stacked vertically to optimize space.


Toroidal (doughnut-shaped) structures: Toroidal habitats provide a large interior space relative to their size and offer structural strength. They can be pressurized and provide radiation shielding. The central void of the torus can be used for common areas or storage.


Lava tube structures: Lava tubes are natural underground tunnels formed by ancient volcanic activity. They offer a readymade structure for habitat placement, providing protection from radiation and temperature extremes. Utilizing lava tubes as habitats reduces the need for extensive construction.


Placement – In designing a lunar base with a combination of structures inside a cave and outside, certain elements may be better suited for placement inside the cave due to specific factors. Elements and factors to consider:


Staff accommodations: Staff accommodations, including living quarters and workspace, can be located both inside the cave and outside. Placing some staff accommodations inside the cave offers benefits such as natural radiation shielding, insulation from extreme temperature fluctuations, and protection from micrometeorite impacts. It can provide a more stable and secure environment for long-term habitation.


Accommodations for guests: Similar to staff accommodations, guest accommodations can be placed both inside the cave and outside. Placing guest accommodations inside the cave can provide added privacy, security, and a more controlled environment for visitors. It can also offer them the experience of staying in a unique lunar cave setting.


Control room: The control room, which serves as the central hub for managing various systems and operations, would typically be located inside the cave. Placing it inside the cave provides added protection against radiation and reduces the risk of equipment damage from external factors. It also ensures a more stable environment for critical operations.


Common hall: The common hall, which serves as a communal area for socializing and gathering, can be placed both inside the cave and outside, depending on the design preferences and available space. It could be designed as a central space connecting the cave and external structures, fostering interaction between residents and visitors.


Hydroponic/aeroponic cultivation hall: The cultivation hall is best located inside the cave due to its controlled environment requirements. Placing it inside provides better insulation, protection from radiation, and easier regulation of temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions necessary for plant growth. The stable conditions inside the cave can contribute to the success of the cultivation efforts.


Gym: The gym can be placed both inside the cave and outside, depending on available space and design considerations. Placing it inside the cave can provide a more private and controlled environment for exercise. However, it could also be designed as an outdoor facility, taking advantage of the lower lunar gravity for certain activities.


Infirmary: The infirmary would generally be located inside the cave to ensure a controlled environment for medical care. It offers protection against radiation and provides a more stable setting for healthcare activities. Access to medical facilities inside the cave can be crucial for emergency situations and long-term health management.


Laboratories: Laboratories can be placed both inside the cave and outside, depending on their specific requirements. Some experiments may benefit from the stable and controlled environment inside the cave, which offers protection from external factors. However, certain research activities may require access to natural light or specialized equipment that can be accommodated outside the cave.


Rover hub: The rover hub, serving as a central location for rover maintenance, charging, and coordination, is typically located outside the cave. Placing it outside allows for easier access to the lunar surface and facilitates rover operations. The hub can be strategically positioned near the cave entrance for efficient movement of rovers between the surface and the base.


Observatory: The observatory is best located outside the cave to minimize any potential interference from internal lighting or structures. Placing it on higher ground or at an elevated position can enhance its field of view and reduce obstructions. It would be beneficial to position the observatory away from potential light pollution sources, such as the base's artificial lighting.


Energy production plant: Energy production plants, such as solar arrays or other power generation systems, are typically placed outside the cave. They require access to sunlight for efficient energy production. Placing them in unobstructed areas maximizes exposure to sunlight and ensures optimal energy generation. However, energy storage and distribution systems may be located both inside the cave and outside for efficient power management.


Local production of materials: Facilities for local production of materials, such as 3D printers or resource extraction equipment, can be located both inside the cave and outside. Some operations may benefit from the controlled environment and radiation shielding provided by the cave. Others, such as resource extraction or processing activities, may need to be situated closer to the lunar surface for easier access to raw materials.


In general, placing certain elements inside the cave offers benefits such as radiation shielding, thermal stability, and protection from external hazards.


Superficial protection – The "Dsup" protein, short for "durable shield protein," is a protein that has been discovered in certain microorganisms, particularly those that can survive in extreme environments such as high radiation levels and desiccation (extreme dryness).

The Dsup protein is of particular interest because it has been found to have protective properties against DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. It appears to bind to chromatin, the complex of DNA and proteins that make up chromosomes, and helps shield the DNA from radiation-induced damage. This protective function allows certain organisms to better withstand the harmful effects of radiation and other stressors.


The potential application of the Dsup protein to treat surfaces is an area of ongoing research and exploration. The concept of treating surfaces with Dsup protein involves applying or coating the protein onto a surface to potentially enhance its resistance to radiation or other stressors.

bottom of page