I'm involved in a bit of a debate over the temperatures of different objects on the surface of the moon during the moon landings. I've seen it said that the cameras only had to survive around between -70 and 120 Celsius. I've also seen it said that the surface temperature of the space suits varied between a few hundred degrees in the light and - a few hundred in the dark. How is this temperature discrepancy possible? Am I just misunderstanding how the temperatures work?

Also, the camera values were for the camera/cameras used for the Apollo 11 mission.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you give the references for those numbers? $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ That'll take a minute. One was from an article about the design of the cameras, and the other was allegedly from a NASA report. I'll get better sources in a minute when I can properly find them. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ It's possible that the cameras were stored on the (heated) lunar module when on the dark side. Not much light for a photo on that side anyway $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ the cameras only had to survive around between -70 and 120 Celsius. What is that supposed to mean? Temperature of what? On Earth, when we say, the temperature is so-many degrees or that a camera can be operated in a temperature range of so-many degrees, we are talking about air temperature. There is no air on the moon. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2015 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ -70 (-55 actually) and 120 (125) degrees Celsius are roughly the most extended ranges in which electronic military and aerospace equipment is being qualified. While it is possible to make electronics equipment work beyond this range, it's a pain to do so, and in practice one choses thermal stabilization over extending the temperature range in aerospace designs. It sounds almost like someone was mistaking the qualification range for the actual environmental range. They are never the same in these kinds of designs. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Here is a table for various situations:

temperatures on moon

The range ( ignoring dark polar crater) from 122C during the two week dat and at 0 latitude, to -158 at night.

They probably did not take the cameras out unless within the range. It may be that the constituent parts of the camera would not work outside that range. Between the maxima and the minima there are ranges , beginning of day, beginning of night so all parts of the moon could be photographed at the proper times for the camera's temperature range.


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