Shackleton Crater located on the south pole of the Moon. The Lunar Temple visible as bright dot on the left side.
Credit: Jorge Mañes Rubio/DITISHOE


Serenity now!

Future lunar dwellers may find solace atop a near-perpetually sunlit peak close to the Moon’s south pole – in a temple to celebrate the Moon as a powerful symbol of unity for humankind.

The temple would be built on the sunlit rim of Shackleton Crater, which is bathed much of the time in sunlight while overlooking the crater’s deep interior of everlasting shadow.

Shackleton crater has a diameter of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and is over 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers) deep. This site is a potential candidate for a future outpost on the Moon due to its unique lighting conditions.

Credit: Jorge Mañes Rubio/DITISHOE

Symbol of unity

While some of its peaks receive almost continuous sunlight, its interior (one of the coldest and darkest places in the Solar System) may have captured water ice, key for a self-sustainable lunar settlement, explains an ESA statement on the temple concept.

A European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) includes the artistic touches of Jorge Mañes Rubio – the group’s artist in residence. His “Peak of Eternal Light art project” involves a “Moon Temple.” It is a structure meant to be a symbol of unity for humankind, reflecting the pull that our natural satellite has always had on the human imagination.

“So this Temple is intended as a mythic and universal structure that can hopefully bring people together in this new environment in novel ways,” Rubio explains.

Credit: Jorge Mañes Rubio/DITISHOE

Abode architecture

The nearly 165 foot (50 meters) high domed structure is envisioned by ESA materials specialists as a possible structure put in place in one-sixth gravity by 3D printing of lunar soil. The result might resemble “abode” architecture, Rubio adds, an ancient method of building that is still made use to this day.

Leopold Summerer, head of the ACT explains that these contemplative ideas about future lunar facilities “have been very valuable and stimulating, since they lead us to consider aspects of human exploration that aren’t usually considered by scientists and engineers.”

The Temple’s free-standing dome would allow patrons to view Earth for two weeks at a time, Rubio points out, inspiring more independent thinking. One opening in the dome will look Earthwards, while another at the top will peer out into deep space.

Artist Jorge Mañes Rubio.
Photo credit: Bret Hartman

Next steps

As a next step, Rubio aims to create small sculptures and “artefacts” out of simulated lunar materials, inspired by the simulated lunar environment at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre near Cologne, Germany.

Meanwhile, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, ESA’s Director General, has been very vocal on establishing a “Moon Village” – a robotic and human presence on the Moon, given the eventual decommissioning in 2024 of the International Space Station.

Rubio continues to work on his Peak of Eternal Light art project. An interactive VR experience and digital app is being planned. This free app will allow anybody to virtually travel to the south pole of the Moon and explore Shackleton crater in all its glory.


Peak of Eternal Light and the Moon Temple is an art project created by Jorge Mañes Rubio as artist in residence at the European Space Agency (ESA). Spatial design and visualization in collaboration with DITISHOE.

Take a look at this engaging video regarding the project:




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