Can Astronauts Land their Spacecraft on the Dark Side of the Moon?

No, astronauts can’t land on the dark side of the moon and here’s why.

At the lunar equator, daytime temperatures can reach about 273 degrees Fahrenheit—a temperature that astronauts can tolerate in their space suits, although we’re sure they’d prefer a slightly cooler spot.

At night when it’s dark, with no atmosphere to hold in the heat of the day, the temperatures plummet drastically to a chilly -—243 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that’s not as easy to withstand.

This, plus a lack of visibility, makes it impractical for them to land in the dark.

But really, there isn’t one “dark side” of the moon. It’s dark on one side for about fourteen days, until it’s rotated around and cooled on the other side for fourteen days.

There is a constant near side of the moon as well as a constant far side, however. Because the moon is stuck in a steady gravitational orbit with Earth, from here we always see the same side of the moon—the near side. This is the side of the moon that all astronauts land on.

Not just because it’s closer, but also because if there were a big moon stuck between the spaceship and ground control, all radio contact would be lost.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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