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Why is the moon lander wearing a Columbia Sportswear jacket?

Columbia designed the heat tech that protects Odysseus

Intuitive Machines landed a spacecraft on the moon (sideways) on February 22. While we wait and wait for pictures from the moon, you may have noticed something interesting in coverage of the landing: Odysseus has the Columbia Sportswear logo on it. 

Credit: Intuitive Machines

If you’re wondering why, exactly, Columbia Sportswear is on the moon, I’ve got the rundown for you.

(and no, this is in no way sponsored by Columbia Sportswear)

Intuitive Machines partnered with Columbia to build the insulation for their lunar lander. 


The moon doesn’t really have “weather” as we know it, because it doesn’t really have much of an atmosphere. What it does have is an exosphere, which is extremely thin, to the point where the molecules in it don’t really interact or collide much. The exosphere is primarily composed of neon, argon, and helium, and a lot of it comes from solar wind.

Credit: ESA

On Earth, our atmosphere (which is so big it actually stretches out past the moon and the moon passes through it) is what protects us from the harsh realities of space, but the moon’s exosphere basically does nothing. So the moon’s surface is subject to extreme temperatures—both cold and hot.

During the lunar day, which is happening right now on the moon, temperatures can get as high as 250 degrees F (or 121 degrees C). That’s why Odysseus needs heat protection.

Credit: Columbia Sportswear

This is where Columbia comes in. Their Omni-Heat Infinity technology, which is basically a gold metallic foil with mylar dots, lines some of their coats and its small dots designed to reflect and conserve warmth. In the case of Odysseus, the insulation is designed to protect the spacecraft from both the cold temperatures in space and the very warm temperatures on the moon. It’s been tested and is expected to protect the lander from -250 degrees F to +250 degrees F (or -156 degrees C to 121 degrees C).

Apollo 12, Credit: NASA

The funny thing is that it’s inspired by NASA’s reflective technology that they developed to protect spacecraft, so this is kind of a full circle. 

If you’re interested at all in these jackets by the way, they appear to run from around $150 to $180. I’m not trying to sell you an expensive piece of outerwear, and I don’t own one of them but I do think it’s cool you can buy a jacket that uses technology developed for space travel.

So, the question is, what about lunar night? The moon takes 28 days to complete one rotation, which means days are two Earth weeks long and nights are as well. Nights on the moon can get as chilly as -208 degrees F (-133 degrees C), on average, which seems to be within the range of the Omni-Heat tech’s capabilities. So Odysseus will survive the lunar night, right?


Odysseus is near the moon’s south pole, possibly within the Malapert A crater, and it’s even colder there. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has measured temperatures as cold as -410 degrees F (-246 degrees C) in this region.

Credit: Katelyn Frizzell, Kristen Luchsinger, Alissa Madera, Tyler Paladino, Christian Tai Udovicic, and David Kring, LPI

In fact, these lunar craters may be the coldest spots in the solar system — colder even than Pluto. Pluto’s average temperature is -387 degrees F or -232 degrees C. Impact craters on the moon are known to have “cold spots” These appear after the sun sets, and it’s not clear why they are colder then their surroundings. 

Einthoven “cold spot” crater, Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

In addition, conditions within craters at the moon’s poles are even more extreme than other areas on the moon’s surface. The Sun never shines on some of these crater floors, so they are permanently dark and cold

Shackleton crater, Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

All of this means the lander isn’t expected to survive the lunar night, and it isn’t actually designed to. The mission duration is the approximately nine or 10 days of lunar daylight the spacecraft has left. A lot of people have been wondering why a company would go to the trouble of sending a spacecraft all the way to the moon and then not designing it to survive for the long term.

There’s a few reasons. It is EXTREMELY cold during lunar night at the south pole. And IM-1 is just a demonstration mission to make sure the technology works and can reach the moon. Keeping everything as simple as possible is ideal, and designing a spacecraft to survive both lunar day and night is much more complicated. It’s not necessary right now (eventually it will be), so they didn’t do it.

During the press conference on Friday, Tim Crain, the Chief Technology Officer of Intuitive Machines, as well as the Mission Director for IM-1, said that the batteries will work to keep the lander warm as long as they can, but they don’t think it will survive the two weeks of darkness.

The next time the sun shines in the Malapert A region, Intuitive Machines will attempt to contact Odysseus, but they don’t expect to hear anything back.