I recently read that temperatures on the moon can vary from -100 °C in the shade to 100 °C in the sunny part.

How did astronaut suits cope with these extreme temperatures? Is the same technology used in other fields today?


1 Answer 1


So, the surface temperature can even vary a bit more:

Surface temperature Minimum Mean Maximum
Equator 100 K 250 K 390 K
85°N N/A 150 K 230 K


But that problem is not as big as it looks. The Moon can be considered to be surrounded by vacuum . This means:

  1. The listed temperatures are SURFACE temperatures, not the "environment's" temperature.
  2. Object cannot lose thermal energy by convection, but quasi only by radiation.

Space suits or space ships/capsules are (nearly) always white (maybe not always "clean white") or metallic (silver, golden). This colour is chosen, so minimum thermal energy is absorbed, but also minimum is radiated.

So, there is a situation, where heated objects can keep thermal energy quite well. Additionally, Apollo missions only landed on the sunny part of the moon. There was no Apollo landing in a "lunar night". So the surface temperatures had been quite stable.

This all is reducing the problem to situations, where an astronaut grabs for something or stands on the moon surface. In this case, there is physical contact between the hot surface and the space suit.

So building a lunar space suit it is important to use materials capable of handing these temperatures and isolating it enough so the person inside does not get hurt, by using materials such as: Nylon, Kapton or Teflon.

Besides the suits and space craft had thermal regulation ("AC") to cope with thermal energy from inside, but that would be another question.

Is the same technology used in other fields today?

Yes, I call it oven gloves and use it while getting my pizza ;-)

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ also relevant that the near sunrise time of apollo means the temperatures were closer to the mean space.stackexchange.com/questions/37366/… $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 9:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you both. I'll keep using my space exploration gloves to bake potatoes. ;) $\endgroup$
    – raulmd13
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger Also relevant is that the short stays on the Moon (3-plus days for Apollo 17) meant the Apollo astronauts didn't experience the very high surface temperatures that can occur on the surface of the Moon. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ you missed info for max at 85°N $\endgroup$
    – inemanja
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 20:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @inemanja: actually I just had a format error shifting from max to mean and from mean to min. The source itself does not give an 85°N min value $\endgroup$
    – CallMeTom
    Commented Nov 5, 2020 at 6:21

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