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'Moon, not Pluto, the coldest in Solar system'

September 28, 2009 16:42 IST
Dark craters near Moon's south pole may be the coldest place in the entire solar system, frostier than planet Pluto. The crater floors which are 239,000 miles down, have 'daytime' temperatures that never rise above minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit, according to preliminary results from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The super-cold temperatures are chilly enough to have preserved ice for billions of years in the craters, according to NASA scientists.

"This is an exciting time for LRO," Richard Vondrak, who heads the solar-system exploration division at the Goddard Space Flight Institute in Greenbelt was quoted by Christian Science Monitor.

The data released said that the thermal measurements showed daytime temperature over much of the Moon's surface reach 220 degree Fahrenheit, which is hotter than boiling water before plummeting to frigidness at night.

While, the temperatures in the dark craters which never saw sunlight remained below minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit making them solar system's coldest areas.

Pluto is currently considered the coldest planet with minimum temperature ranging fron minus 391 to minus 346 degree Fahrenheit.

Launched in June, the orbiter on a one year mission officially began its mapping mission last week, orbiting the Moon some 30 miles above the surface.

Photograph: Reuters

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