Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Columbia Astronomer Offers New Theory Into 400-year-old Lunar Mystery

*TLP - Columbia Astronomer Offers New Theory Into 400-year-old Lunar
Mystery - To Flash or Not To Flash - That is the question.

*Folks have looked at the Moon and over the years some have said they
saw flashes of light up there.
Some have said it must be from the aliens living on the Moon.
Some have said it is just the reflection of the Sun on shinny rocks.
Some have said the Moon has volcanic activity and we are seeing signs of
Some have said that it is just gas from the core of the Moon and wonder
what kind of gas.

Some have organized to watch with their telescopes.
by David Darling (website: HTTP://

I had to go wash my eyes, I thought I might be seeing things.
- LRK -

*Columbia Astronomer Offers New Theory Into 400-year-old Lunar Mystery*

Columbia astronomy professor Arlin Crotts thinks he has
solved a 400-year-old mystery: the origin of strange optical flashes
often reported as appearing on the moon�s surface.

Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLPs), in which the lunar surface reportedly
changes in brightness, blurriness or color, have been photographed and
observed by thousands of astronomers over the centuries. Yet explanations
of why they occur and even their reality as true lunar phenomena have been
hotly debated. The TLPs typically cover a space of a few kilometers and last
for several minutes.

Crotts has uncovered a strong statistical relationship between TLPs and
so-called outgassing events on the lunar surface. Outgassing occurs when
gases trapped beneath a moon or planet are released and, if only
briefly, become part of the object's atmosphere. A key component of this
gas is radon.

"People over the years have attributed TLPs to all sorts of effects:
turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, visual physiological effects,
atmospheric smearing of light like a prism, and even psychological
effects like hysteria or planted suggestion" says Crotts, "but TLPs
correlate strongly with radon gas leaking from the moon. No earth-bound
effect can fake that."


So what has been causing those flashes, if flashes they be?

Is it some gas from the inside of the Moon?

What kind of gas?

Just some radio active decay product or will there also be something
that might be worth drilling for?

Everyone is going to the Moon, well not everyone, but if the missions
that we have heard about take place the Moon will never be the same.
The Apollo Astronauts landed on the Moon, and left behind some trash.
Every lander left exhaust gases that bounced around on the surface of
the Moon until the gases froze out or escaped into space.
When we go back and start landing again, the Moon's environment will
feel our presence.
What was a pretty good vacuum, for awhile will not be the same.

Now how do you get a base line of what is there or not there, before we
put a lot of our stuff there?
The next orbiters will get a look at what is below and then it will be

The Japanese are going to the Moon shortly with a good set of
instruments and it would be nice to look at the Moon while their
spacecraft is in orbit so that if we should see some flashes of light we
might also ask them what they saw up close and personal.

The August 16 launch has been delayed which may help some of you get
ready to look up.
- LRK -
July 20, 2007 Updated

Launch Postponement of the KAGUYA (SELENE)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency would like to announce that we decided to postpone the launch of
the Lunar Orbit Explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle
No. 13 (H-IIA F13.)
The launch was originally scheduled on August 16, 2007 (Japan Standard
Time, JST.)
The new launch date will be announced as soon as it is determined.

- Launch Postponement of the KAGUYA (SELENE)
(Press Release)

Did you go look at the News Release from Columbia University in New York?

The reason I ask is that I received an e-mail from Professor Arlin
Crotts asking for ideas on how they might get better coverage around the
World during the SELENE mission coming up. Take a look at his letter I
copied below (with permission) and if you know of someone with deep
pockets that could help, let him know.

Let me see, wasn't GOOGLE going to start a research center on the Moon?
*Google Copernicus Hosting Environment and Experiment in Search
Engineering* (G.C.H.E.E.S.E.)

Maybe they would like to update their Google Moon Map with some TLP sites.

Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:

Dear Larry,

I am coming to you via Paul Spudis and Steve Durst. Our group
is conducting an observational experiment regarding the lunar
atmosphere. Even though we have applied for funding from NASA,
the NSF and other organizations, this experiment will be much more
interesting if we can perform it over the duration of the JAXA
SELENE mission, so are in urgent need of additional help. (We will
not hear from NASA, NSF, etc. until mid-2008.) SELENE will carry
the only experiment for many years to study the lunar atmosphere, the
ARD (Alpha Ray Detector), which will detect when and where radon
leaks from the lunar surface.

I have a paper that should be coming out in Icarus showing that
optical transients on the lunar surface (TLPs, with which I imagine
you are familiar) are very strongly correlated with radon leaking
from the lunar surface, as measured on Lunar Prospector and Apollo
15. In response to this we are putting together a series of robotic
imaging monitors, so as to detect TLPs (and confirm their existence),
but mainly to record as many of these as possible while SELENE is in
orbit. Our website
describes all of this.

We have one monitor in Chile and commitments for other stations
in Utah and Australia, and maybe Maui. To maximize coverage we
would also like to find a site in Europe or western Asia. Also, we
have enough support for the one monitor in Chile, and perhaps most
of a second. Four or five are needed to give nearly 100% coverage.
A single monitor costs about $20000 in hardware and $5000 in
operations. If there is anyone out there who would like to talk to
us about sponsoring a monitor or providing a site in Europe/west
Asia, this could be crucial. We would also encourage anyone who
might like to construct their own monitor consistent with ours and
collaborate on the experiment. We are not ready to work with visual
observers monitoring the Moon and will not be anytime soon, but will
eventually be able to post or send out alerts in realtime when we
detect a TLP. If anyone is interested in any of the current options
they should contact us via email to

We don't really know what the gas leaking out of the Moon
consists of (except for trace radon). It probably contains a lot of
radiogenic argon-40. The main site of outgassing is the Aristarchus
Plateau, which was the location of the most massive and some of the
more recent volcanic effusion on the Moon. It is compelling to
speculate that some of this gas may be of magmatic origin, such as CO
(or CO2), or H2O. The observational limits on these from these sites
are not very constraining. If the gas includes these, it would be
very interesting for several reasons. including resource exploitation.

Anyway, I am looking for ideas of where to find help. Mainly we
need funding support, and maybe we need collaborators in certain
locations in the world. I wish we could accomplish this by more
conventional means, but these methods are very slow, slower that the
time it takes to get to the Moon!

Thank you,

- Prof. Arlin Crotts

Flashes on the Moon Caused by Gas
June 28th, 2007

There's a strange phenomenon on the Moon that has puzzled astronomers for
hundreds of years. They're called
transient lunar phenomena (TLPs), and they look like a brief flashes, changes in
colour, or blurring on the surface of the Moon.

Astronomers have argued about what's really going on for years. Some possible
explanations include turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere, physiological effects
in the human eye, smearing of light, and even psychological causes. But
according to new research by Columbia University astronomy professor Arlin
Crotts, radon gas leaking out from the Moon is probably the best explanation.
Transient lunar phenomenon

A transient lunar phenomenon (TLP) refers to short-lived lights, colors, or
changes in appearance of the lunar surface. Claims of short-lived phenomena go back at least 1000 years, with some having been observed
independently by multiple witnesses or reputable scientists. Nevertheless, the
majority of transient lunar phenomena reports are irreproducible and do not
possess adequate control experiments that could be used to distinguish among
alternative hypotheses. Few reports concerning these phenomena are ever
published in peer reviewed scientific journals, and rightfully or wrongfully,
the lunar scientific community rarely discusses these observations. Most lunar
scientists will acknowledge that transient events such as outgassing and impact
cratering do occur over geologic time: the controversy lies in the frequency of
such events.


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