Sunday, 19 August 2012

Origins of the Moon

Origins of the Moon 

Part I

The Moon
‘Is the Moon a hollowed-out spaceship sent to orbit our earth in the remote prehistoric past?’ 
Don Wilson, “Our Mysterious Spaceship Moon”

The moon is the most dominant feature in our night sky, inspiring both wonder and myth since antiquity. While the past few decades have offered new understanding about many lunar mysteries, a great number of unanswered questions still surround our only natural satellite. We’ve come to rely on this white planetoid, which ceaselessly orbits our planet every 28 days, as an important part of our natural world. Yet when we begin to analyze the physical qualities of our familiar neighbor, many details suggest that the moon might not be that natural at all.

A manufactured moon?! Where did this absurd theory originate? First posited in the 1960s by Russian scientists Mijail Vasin and Alexander Sherbakov—and later endorsed by investigators and colleagues intrigued by this hypothesis—the idea contains eight postulate principles analyzing some of the most curious characteristics of our lunar companion. Below is a brief summary of these observations.

First Lunar Mystery: Large Satellite, Small Planet

Compared to other planets in our solar system, both the orbit path and size of our moon turns out to be a fairly considerable anomaly. Other planets, of course, have moons too. But with their weaker gravitational influence, the smaller planets —like Mercury, Venus and Pluto—do not. Similarly sized Earth, on the other hand, carries a moon one-quarter its size. Compare this with the immense Jupiter or Saturn, which have several comparatively tiny satellites (Jupiter’s moons measure about 1/80th the size of the large planet), and our moon seems to be a rather rare cosmic occurrence.

Another interesting detail is the moon’s distance from Earth—close enough so that it appears equal in size to our sun. This curious coincidence is most apparent during total solar eclipses, where the moon completely covers our closest star.

Finally, with a nearly perfect circular orbit, the moon does not behave like other satellites that tend toward a more elliptical path.

Second Lunar Mystery: Unlikely Curvature

The gravitational center of the moon is nearly 6,000 feet closer to Earth than its geometric center. With such a significant discrepancy, scientists remain unable to explain how the moon manages to maintain its nearly perfect circular orbit without wobbling.

Third Lunar Mystery: Craters

Think of photos illustrating the surface of the moon and you’re sure to imagine a world marked with craters. The vast majority of spatial bodies hurling toward Earth’s surface are either completely dissolved or significantly diminished due to several miles of our protective atmosphere. Without such an atmosphere, the moon does not appear to fare as well. Yet when you consider that the depths of these craters are remarkably shallow in comparison to their circumference, it suggests that the moon possesses an extremely resistant material that prevents deeper penetration. Even craters over 180 miles in diameter do not go deeper than 4 miles. If the moon were merely a homogeneous hunk of rock, it is estimated that there should exist craters of at least four to five times as deep.

Vasin and Sherbakov proposed that the lunar crust was perhaps made of a titanium frame. In fact, it has been verified that the lunar crust possess an extraordinary level of titanium. The layer of titanium estimated by the Soviet team is nearly 20 miles thick.

Fourth Lunar Mystery: Lunar Oceans

How did the so-called lunar oceans form? These gigantic extensions are believed to be hardened lava said to have come from the moon’s interior due to an impacting meteorite. While this theory can be easily explained with regard to a warm planet having a molten interior, many say that the moon is more likely to have always been a cold body.

Fifth Lunar Mystery: Gravitational Inconsistency

The gravitational attraction on the moon is not uniform. The crew onboard Apollo VIII noticed their craft taking abrupt dips when flying near the satellite’s ocean areas. At these sites, gravity seems to mysteriously exhibit a greater influence.

Sixth Lunar Mystery: Geographical Asymmetry

On the moon’s far side (the side that can’t be seen from Earth), we have found many craters, mountains, and geographical upheaval. Yet the side facing Earth is where we find the great majority of the satellite’s oceans. Why are 80 percent of the lunar oceans found only on one side of the moon?

Seventh Lunar Mystery: Low Density

Our moon’s density is found to be about 60 percent of Earth’s density. Various studies demonstrate what many consider its inevitable hollowness. In his 1982 book Moongate: Suppressed Findings of the U.S. Space Program, nuclear engineer and researcher William L. Brian II writes that evidence provided by Apollo seismic experiments suggest that “the moon is hollow and relatively rigid.” Furthermore, several scientists have been so bold as to postulate that such hollowness is artificial. In fact, according to the position of the superficial layers that have managed to be identified, scientists have declared that the moon appears to be a planet that was formed “in reverse,” which some cite as another argument for the artificial construction hypothesis.

Eighth Lunar Mystery: Other Origin Theories

Over the past century there have been three main theories imagining the moon’s origins. One proposed that the moon was actually a part of the Earth that had broken away. Another theory believed the moon had been formed at the same time as Earth, emerging from the same cloud of primordial nebula. These hypotheses, however, fail to address the incredible differences found in the nature of both bodies. The third theory proposes that during its wandering through space, the moon was attracted to Earth and captured in its orbit. The problems with this theory lie in the explanations above: the moon’s almost perfectly circular and cyclical orbit, and its comparatively large size. In cases where a satellite is captured by a planet, a more eccentric orbit would be expected—or at least something elliptical. Another problem with all three theories is their inability to justify the high angular momentum between the moon and Earth.

A fourth explanation, detailed in this article, is perhaps the most incredible of all. However, it could explain various anomalies that the moon presents, since a satellite constructed by intelligent beings is not subject to the same considerations one would expect with bodies created in a random process billions of years ago. In fact, many scientists have accepted this theory as one no less valid than the others.

“When I first stumbled across the shocking Soviet theory revealing the true nature of the moon, I was staggered. At first I found it unbelievable and naturally rejected it. Then, as scientific information from our Apollo expeditions brought back more and more facts that backed the Soviet theory, I found myself forced to accept it,” writes Don Wilson in the prologue to his book exploring the artificial satellite theory, Our Mysterious Spaceship Moon.

If the moon were indeed artificial, what was its purpose and who built it? Was it simply made to shine a light in the night sky, or were there other design considerations? Its field is found to affect our tides, women’s menstrual cycles, and some believe that a full moon can even affect our mental state. Having become an integral part of life on Earth, it’s hard to imagine our world without the moon. But perhaps mankind once knew such a moonless age

Origins of the Moon 

Part II

On July 20, 1969, just moments after Apollo 11 astronauts took the first readings on the moon, NASA registered the first seismic movements of the satellite. Although movements were slight, scientists started questioning whether the readings were caused by the fall of the Luna 15—an unmanned Soviet satellite that had recently been orbiting our moon, only to fall in the planetoid’s aptly named “Sea of Crisis.” But beyond the nature of this impact, what most captivates investigation teams is the continued activity found on our neighboring lunar world.

Recently, many investigators have spent thousands of hours interpreting seismograph readings taken during the Apollo lunar missions (11 and 16). In this series of missions, astronauts used instruments that transmitted a great quantity of information to the Earth until their disconnection in 1977.

According to investigator Yosio Nakamura—a geophysicist at the University of Texas currently studying this phenomena—there exists a small-magnitude moon quake originating about 620 miles from the lunar surface.

Catherine L. Johnson, a geophysicist of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, notes that the depth of this unusual seismic activity is far greater than any seen on Earth. In addition, these small lunar quakes take place several times per day, with the great majority occurring on the visible side of the moon— just another example in a growing list of curious asymmetries that our satellite is found to possess.

Clive R. Neal, professor of civil engineering and geological science at the University of Notre Dame, also investigated data from the Apollo program. Between 1972 and 1977 he verified 28 strong seismic waves (5.5 on the Richter scale) of a shallow depth that left the moon quivering for more than 10 minutes. Compare that to earthquakes on our planet where such vibrations generally do not last more than half a minute. Plus, he found that the moon makes noise.

“The moon was ringing like a bell,” observed Neal in a 2006 NASA report. This phenomenon, along with many other investigations, indicates that our moon may be a hollow planetoid—not a mass of solid rock.

Improbable Theories

Some of the moon’s mysteries might be unveiled if science could confirm its origin. If we could somehow peer into the moon’s history, this now unexplainable lunar behavior might start to make sense. Of the three or four most popular theories of the past century, the most supported one is explained by a slow collision. This theory describes a satellite forming from the fragments expelled by a smaller planet colliding with Earth.

To test the dynamic behavior of this collision, laboratories use supercomputers capable of recreating graphics with millions of possible variables. According to the calculations, the moon could only have been formed if a body of a specific size impacted Earth at a very specific angle, liberating the spatial materials capable of pulling together instead of falling back to Earth. This would require, among other variables, that the impacting object was not pulverized and that it hit Earth at a velocity of just over 9 miles a second.

Glowing Lunar Lights

Although scientists have engineered a way to recreate this complicated scenario, there still exists a great variety of lunar characteristics that defy explanation.

While some imagine the small lights seen on the moon to be extraterrestrial evidence, most are found to be a cloud of magnetically charged dust particles that appear on the lunar surface as glowing spots. These lights, known as lunar transitory phenomena (LTP), have been observed for centuries. This magnetic storm—a phenomenon of great interest in the days of the Apollo program—was revisited at the end of 2005.

Using the Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites Experiment (LEAM)—a device Apollo 17 astronauts installed on the moon in 1972 to observe the dust left by small meteoroids hitting the lunar surface—researchers examined data over 30 years old to see the reasons behind LTP.

“To everyone’s surprise, LEAM saw a large number of particles every morning, mostly coming from the east or west—rather than above or below—and mostly slower than speeds expected for lunar ejecta,” said Gary Olhoeft, professor of geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, in a NASA report.

Researchers found that a few hours after every lunar sunrise, the experiment’s temperature shot up to nearly 200 F, and LEAM had to be shut off to avoid overheating. Scientists remain puzzled by what could create such a strange daily occurrence.

A Manufactured Moon

In the 1960s, Mijail Vasin and Alexander Sherbavok of the Soviet Academy of Sciences interpreted this curious data and devised a theory that could shed light on this lunar enigma.

They suggested that our satellite did not follow the laws of other natural cosmic bodies because it was not formed by natural processes. Instead, the Soviet team claimed the moon was a manufactured orb. While some may scoff at this idea, numerous reports and data from NASA have prompted many to seriously consider the proposition of an artificial moon. As Part I of this article demonstrated, the moon possesses rare characteristics and strange phenomena that can’t be found in other celestial bodies. For example, there are shallow craters suggesting that the moon is made of an extremely strong material; the moon’s density is so low that it could float in water; it’s a very large satellite for such a comparatively small planet; it also has a nearly perfect circular orbit, and a gravitational inconsistency throughout its surface.

Sceptics of course consider the idea that ancient man could have developed the technology to construct such a luminous colossus as simply ridiculous. But if we stop and look over the achievements and projects of modern humans, maybe this idea would not seem so crazy. The famous astronomer Carl Sagan once said that with a simple footprint on the moon and Mars, man has already started to change the face of other worlds. Our impact today is of course more than a footprint, as the moon is even being considered as a possible energy source. This project attempts to scatter immense solar panels on our satellite, and transmit that energy to Earth through microwaves.

Even if such a society had the technology that was needed, what reason would they have to create a moon? Some say life on Earth would be too chaotic without this satellite. Without our “gravitational anchor,” our unstable planet would be a world of 6-hour days, unbearable winters, and infernal summers. As astronomers note that the moon is moving farther away from Earth at a few inches a year, some scientists have even started to sketch ideas for maintaining our planetary stability. Alexander Eivian of the University of Iowa has suggested kidnapping Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and putting it in our orbit—this satellite is proposed to be sufficiently large enough to do the job.

Contemplating the manipulation of bodies in our solar system is a clear example of the influence that man may be able to exercise in space a few years hence. Therefore, it calls for one to reconsider the possibility that a civilization like our own—born some thousands of years ago—could have possessed the capacity to initiate, in the height of the firmament, a “great cosmic lamp.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Plenty of Dark matter found around the Sun

The high resolution simulation of the Milky Way used to test the mass-measuring technique. Credit: Dr A. Hobbs

( -- Astronomers at the University of Z├╝rich, the ETH Zurich, the University of Leicester and NAOC Beijing have found large amounts of invisible "dark matter" near the Sun. Their results are consistent with the theory that the Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a massive "halo" of dark matter, but this is the first study of its kind to use a method rigorously tested against mock data from high quality simulations. The authors also find tantalising hints of a new dark matter component in our Galaxy. The team's results will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dark matter was first proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s. He found that clusters of galaxies were filled with a mysterious dark matter that kept them from flying apart. At nearly the same time, Jan Oort in the Netherlands discovered that the density of matter near the Sun was nearly twice what could be explained by the presence of stars and gas alone. In the intervening decades, astronomers developed a theory of dark matter and structure formation that explains the properties of clusters and galaxies in the Universe, but the amount of dark matter in the solar neighbourhood has remained more mysterious. For decades after Oort's measurement, studies found 3-6 times more dark matter than expected. Then last year new data and a new method claimed far less than expected. The community was left puzzled, generally believing that the observations and analyses simply weren't sensitive enough to perform a reliable measurement.

Dark matter was first proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s. He found that clusters of galaxies were filled with a mysterious dark matter that kept them from flying apart. At nearly the same time, Jan Oort in the Netherlands discovered that the density of matter near the Sun was nearly twice what could be explained by the presence of stars and gas alone. In the intervening decades, astronomers developed a theory of dark matter and structure formation that explains the properties of clusters and galaxies in the Universe, but the amount of dark matter in the solar neighbourhood has remained more mysterious. For decades after Oort's measurement, studies found 3-6 times more dark matter than expected. Then last year new data and a new method claimed far less than expected. The community was left puzzled, generally believing that the observations and analyses simply weren't sensitive enough to perform a reliable measurement.

In this latest study, the authors are much more confident in their measurement and its uncertainties. This is because they used a state-of-the-art simulation of our Galaxy to test their mass-measuring technique before applying it to real data. This threw up a number of surprises. They found that standard techniques used over the past 20 years were biased, always tending to underestimate the amount of dark matter. They then devised a new unbiased technique that recovered the correct answer from the simulated data. Applying their technique to the positions and velocities of thousands of orange K dwarf stars near the Sun, they obtained a new measure of the local dark matter density.

Lead author Silvia Garbari says: "We are 99% confident that there is dark matter near the Sun. In fact, our favoured dark matter density is a little high. There is a 10% chance that this is merely a statistical fluke. But with 90% confidence, we find more dark matter than expected. If future data confirms this high value, the implications are exciting. It could be the first evidence for a "disc" of dark matter in our Galaxy, as recently predicted by theory and numerical simulations of galaxy formation. Or it could be that the dark matter halo of our Galaxy is squashed, boosting the local dark matter density."

Many physicists are placing their bets on dark matter being a new fundamental particle that interacts only very weakly with normal matter -- but strongly enough to be detected in experiments deep underground where confusing cosmic ray events are screened by over a kilometre of solid rock.

An accurate measure of the local dark matter density is vital for such experiments as co-author Prof. George Lake explains: "If dark matter is a fundamental particle, billions of these particles will have passed through your body by the time your finish reading this article. Experimental physicists hope to capture just a few of these particles each year in experiments like XENON and CDMS currently in operation. Knowing the local properties of dark matteris the key to revealing just what kind of particle it consists of."
More information: The new work appears in: "A new determination of the local dark matter density from the kinematics of K dwarfs", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press. A preprint of the paper is available

Plenty of dark matter near the Sun