Called “the Rosetta Stone of the planets” by Dr. Robert Jastrow, the first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, scientists had hoped by studying the composition of the Moon, to resolve some of the mysteries of how our planet and solar system came into existence.
However, six Moon landings later, science writer Earl Ubell declared, “… the lunar Rosetta Stone remains a mystery. The Moon is more complicated than anyone expected; it is not simply a kind of billiard ball frozen in space and time, as many scientists had believed. Few of the fundamental questions have been answered, but the Apollo rocks and recordings have spawned a score of mysteries, a few truly breath-stopping.”
Among these “breath-stopping” mysteries or anomalies as scientists prefer to call them is the fact that the Moon is far older than previously imagined, perhaps even much older than the Earth and Sun. By examining tracks burned into Moon rocks by cosmic rays, scientists have dated them as billions of years old. Some have been dated back 4.5 billion years, far older than the Earth and nearly as old as the solar system.
The Moon has at least three distinct layers of rocks. Contrary to the idea that heavier objects sink, the heavier rocks are found on the surface. And there is a definite disparity in the distribution of minerals. Ubell asked, “If the Earth and Moon were created at the same time, near each other, why has one body got all the iron [the Earth] and the other [the Moon] not much?” asked Ubell. “The differences suggest that Earth and Moon came into being far from each other, an idea that stumbles over the inability of astrophysicists to explain how exactly the Moon became a satellite of the Earth.”
The Moon is extremely dry and does not appear to have ever had water in any substantial amounts. None of the Moon rocks, regardless of where they were found, contained free water or even water molecules bound into the minerals. Yet Apollo 16 astronauts found Moon rocks that contained bits of rusted iron. Since oxidation requires oxygen and free hydrogen, this rust indicates there must be water somewhere on the Moon.
Furthermore, instruments left behind by Apollo missions sent a signal to Earth on March 7, 1971, indicating a “wind” of water had crossed the Moon’s surface. Since any water on the airless Moon surface vaporizes and behaves like the wind on Earth, the question became where did this water originate? The vapor cloud eruptions lasted 14 hours and covered an area of some 100 square miles, prompting Rice University physicists Dr. John Freeman, Jr. and Dr. H. Ken Hills to pronounce the event one of “the most exciting discoveries yet” indicating water within the Moon. The two physicists claimed the water vapor came from deep inside the Moon, apparently released during a moonquake.
NASA officials offered a more mundane, and questionable, explanation. They speculated that two tanks on Apollo descent stages containing between 60 and 100 pounds of water became stressed and ruptured, releasing their contents. Freeman and Hills declined to accept this explanation, pointing out that the two tanks — from Apollo 12 and 14 — were some 180 kilometers apart yet the water vapor was detected with the same flux at both sites although the instruments faced in opposite directions. Skeptics also have understandably questioned the odds of two separate tanks breaking simultaneously and how such a small quantity of water could produce 100 square miles of vapor.
Moon rocks were found to be magnetized—not strong enough to pick up a paper clip, but magnetic nevertheless. However, there is no magnetic field on the Moon itself. So where did the magnetism come from?
The presence of maria, or large seas of smooth solidified molten rock, also presented a mystery. These maria indicate nothing less than a vast outpouring of lava at some distant time. It has now been confirmed that some of the Moon’s craters are of internal origin. Yet there is no indication that the Moon has ever been hot enough to produce volcanic eruptions. Another puzzle is that almost all — four-fifths — of the maria are located on the Moon’s Earthside hemisphere. Few maria mark the far side of the Moon, often erroneously referred to as the “dark side.” Yet the far side contains many more craters and mountainous areas.
In comparison to the rest of the Moon, the maria are relatively free of craters suggesting that craters were covered by lava flow. Adding to this mystery are the mascons — large dense circular masses lying 20 to 40 miles below the center of the Moon’s maria. The mascons were discovered because their denseness distorted the orbits of our spacecraft flying over or near them. One scientist proposed that the mascons are heavy iron meteorites that plunged deep into the Moon while it was in a soft, formable stage. This theory has been discounted since meteorites strike with such high velocities, they would vaporize on contact.
Another mundane explanation is that the mascons are nothing more than lava-filled caverns, but skeptics say there isn’t enough lava present to accomplish this. It would seem these mascons are huge disk-shaped objects possibly of artificial construction. It is unlikely that large circular disks located directly under the center of the maria like a giant bulls-eye happened by accident or coincidence.
Between 1969 and 1977, Apollo mission seismographic equipment registered up to 3,000 “moonquakes” each year of operation. Most of the vibrations were quite small and were caused by meteorite strikes or falling booster rockets. But many other quakes were detected deep inside the Moon. This internal creaking is believed to be caused by the gravitational pull of our planet as most moonquakes occur when the Moon is closest to the Earth.
An event occurred in 1958 in the Moon’s Alphonsus crater, which shook the idea that all internal moonquake activity was simply settling rocks. In November of that year, Soviet astronomer Nikolay A. Kozyrev of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory startled the scientific world by photographing the first recorded gaseous eruption on the Moon near the crater’s peak. Kozyrev attributed this to escaping fluorescent gases. He also detected a reddish glow characteristic of carbon compounds, which “seemed to move and disappeared after an hour.”
Some scientists refused to accept Kozyrev’s findings until astronomers at the Lowell Observatory also saw reddish glows on the crests of ridges in the Aristarchus region in 1963. Days later, colored lights on the Moon lasting more than an hour were reported at two separate observatories.
Something was going on inside the volcanically dead Moon. And whatever it is, it occurs the same way at the same time. As the Moon moves closer to the Earth, seismic signals from different stations on the lunar surface detect identical vibrations. It is difficult to accept this movement as a natural phenomenon. For example, a broken artificial hull plate could shift exactly the same way each time the Moon passed near the Earth.
There is evidence to indicate the Moon may be hollow. Studies of Moon rocks indicate that the Moon’s interior differs from the Earth’s mantle in ways suggesting a very small, or even nonexistent, core. As far back as 1962, NASA scientist Dr. Gordon MacDonald stated, “If the astronomical data are reduced, it is found that the data require that the interior of the Moon be less dense than the outer parts. Indeed, it would seem that the Moon is more like a hollow than a homogeneous sphere.”
Apollo 14 astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, while scoffing at the possibility of a hollow moon, nevertheless admitted that since heavier materials were on the surface, it is quite possible that giant caverns exist within the Moon. MIT’s Dr. Sean C. Solomon wrote, “The Lunar Orbiter experiments vastly improved our knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field … indicating the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”
Why frightening? The significance was stated by astronomer Carl Sagan way back in his 1966 work Intelligent Life in the Universe, “A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.”
The most startling evidence that the Moon could be hollow came on November 20, 1969, when the Apollo 12 crew, after returning to their command ship, sent the lunar module (LM) ascent stage crashing back onto the Moon creating an artificial moonquake. The LM struck the surface about 40 miles from the Apollo 12 landing site where ultra-sensitive seismic equipment recorded something both unexpected and astounding—the Moon reverberated like a bell for more than an hour. The vibration wave took almost eight minutes to reach a peak, and then decreased in intensity. At a news conference that day, one of the co-directors of the seismic experiment, Maurice Ewing, told reporters that scientists were at a loss to explain the ringing. “As for the meaning of it, I’d rather not make an interpretation right now. But it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.”
It was later established that small vibrations had continued on the Moon for more than an hour. The phenomenon was repeated when the Apollo 13’s third stage was sent crashing onto the Moon by radio command, striking with the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. According to NASA, this time the Moon “reacted like a gong.” Although seismic equipment was more than 108 miles from the crash site, recordings showed reverberations lasted for three hours and 20 minutes and traveled to a depth of 22 to 25 miles.
Subsequent studies of man-made crashes on the Moon yielded similar results. After one impact the Moon reverberated for four hours. This ringing coupled with the density problem on the Moon reinforces the idea of a hollow moon. Scientists hoped to record the impact of a meteor large enough to send shock waves to the Moon’s core and back and settle the issue. That opportunity came on May 13, 1972, when a large meteor stuck the Moon with the equivalent force of 200 tons of TNT. After sending shock waves deep into the interior of the Moon, scientists were baffled to find that none returned, confirming that there is something unusual about the Moon’s core, or lack thereof.
Dr. Farouk El Baz was quoted as saying, “There are many undiscovered caverns suspected to exist beneath the surface of the Moon. Several experiments have been flown to the Moon to see if there actually were such caverns.” The results of these experiments have not been made public.
It seems apparent that the Moon has a tough, hard outer shell and a light or nonexistent interior. The Moon’s shell contains dense minerals such as titanium, used on Earth in the construction of aircraft and space vehicles.
Many people still recall watching our astronauts on TV as they vainly tried to drill through the crust of a Moon maria. Their specially designed drills could only penetrate a few inches. The puzzle of the Moon’s hard surface was compounded by the discovery of what appeared to be processed metals.
Experts were surprised to find lunar rocks bearing brass, mica and amphibole in addition to the near-pure titanium. Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 — elements not previously found in nature — were discovered in Moon rocks, according to the Argone National Laboratory. While still trying to explain the presence of these materials, scientists were further startled to learn of rust-proof iron particles in a soil sample from the Sea of Crisis. In 1976, the Associated Press reported that the Soviets had announced the discovery of iron particles that “do not rust” in samples brought back by an unmanned Moon mission in 1970. Iron that does not rust is unknown in nature and well beyond present Earth technology.
Undoubtedly the greatest mystery concerning our Moon is how it came to be there in the first place. Prior to the Apollo missions, one serious theory as to the Moon’s origin was that it broke off of the Earth eons ago. Although no one could positively locate where on Earth it originated, many speculated the loss of material explained the huge gouge in the Earth, which forms the Pacific Ocean. However, this idea was discarded when it was found that there is little similarity between the composition of our world and the Moon.
A more recent theory had the Moon created out of space debris left over from the creation of the Earth. This concept proved untenable in light of current gravitational theory, which indicates that one large object will accumulate all loose material, leaving none for the formation of another large body. It is now generally accepted that the Moon originated elsewhere and entered the Earth’s gravitational field at some point in the distant past.
Here theories diverge — one stating that the Moon was originally a planet which collided with the Earth creating debris which combined forming the Moon while another states the Moon, while wandering through our solar system, was captured and pulled into orbit by Earth’s gravity. Neither of these theories are especially compelling because of the lack of evidence that neither the Earth nor the Moon seem to have been physically disrupted by a past close encounter. There is no debris in space indicating a past collision and it does not appear that the Earth and the Moon developed during the same time period.
As for the “capture” theory, even scientist Isaac Asimov, well known for his works of fiction, has written, “It’s too big to have been captured by the Earth. The chances of such a capture having been effected and the Moon then having taken up nearly circular orbit around our Earth are too small to make such an eventuality credible.”
Asimov was right to consider the Moon’s orbit — it is not only nearly a perfect circle, but stationary, one side always facing the Earth with only the slightest variation. As far as we know, it’s the only natural satellite with such an orbit.
This circular orbit is especially odd considering that the Moon’s center of mass lies more than a mile closer to the Earth than its geometric center. This fact alone should produce an unstable, wobbly orbit, much as a ball with its mass off center will not roll in a straight line. Additionally, almost all of the other satellites in our solar system orbit in the plane of their planet’s equator. Not so the Moon, whose orbit lies strangely nearer the Earth’s orbit around the Sun or inclined to the Earth’s ecliptic by more than five degrees. Add to this the fact that the Moon’s bulge — located on the side facing away from Earth — thus negating the idea that it was caused by the Earth’s gravitational pull — makes for an off-balanced world.
It seems impossible that such an oddity could naturally fall into such a precise and circular orbit. It is a fascinating conundrum as articulated by science writer William Roy Shelton, who wrote, “It is important to remember that something had to put the Moon at or near its present circular pattern around the Earth. Just as an Apollo spacecraft circling the Earth every 90 minutes while 100 miles high has to have a velocity of roughly 18,000 miles per hour to stay in orbit, so something had to give the Moon the precisely required velocity for its weight and altitude … The point—and it is one seldom noted in considering the origin of the Moon — is that it is extremely unlikely that any object would just stumble into the right combination of factors required to stay in orbit. ‘Something’ had to put the Moon at its altitude, on its course and at its speed. The question is: what was that ‘something’?”
If the precise and stationary orbit of the Moon is seen as sheer coincidence, is it also coincidence that the Moon is at just the right distance from the Earth to completely cover the Sun during an eclipse? While the diameter of the Moon is a mere 2,160 miles against the Sun’s gigantic 864,000 miles, it is nevertheless in just the proper position to block out all but the Sun’s flaming corona when it moves between the Sun and the Earth. Asimov explained: “There is no astronomical reason why the Moon and the Sun should fit so well. It is the sheerest of coincidences, and only the Earth among all the planets is blessed in this fashion.”
Is it merely coincidence? How does one explain this and many other Moon mysteries?
In July 1970, two Russian scientists, Mikhail Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov, published an article in the Soviet journal Sputnik entitled “Is the Moon the Creation of Alien Intelligence?” They advanced the theory that the Moon is not a completely natural world, but a planetoid that was hollowed out eons ago in the far reaches of space by intelligent beings possessing a technology far superior to ours. Huge machines were used to melt rock and form large cavities within the Moon, spewing the molten refuse onto the surface. Protected by a hull-like inner shell plus a reconstructed outer shell of metallic rocky junk, this gigantic craft was steered through the cosmos and finally parked in orbit around the Earth.
In their article Vasin and Shcherbakov wrote, “Abandoning the traditional paths of ‘common sense,’ we have plunged into what may at first sight seem to be unbridled and irresponsible fantasy. But the more minutely we go into all the information gathered by man about the Moon, the more we are convinced that there is not a single fact to rule out our supposition. Not only that, but many things so far considered to be lunar enigmas are explainable in the light of this new hypothesis.”
Outrageous as the spaceship moon theory might first appear, consider how this model reconciles all of the mysteries of the Moon. It would explain why the Moon gives evidence of being much older than the Earth and perhaps even our solar system and why there are three distinct layers within the Moon, with the densest materials in the outside layer, exactly as one would expect of the “hull” of a spacecraft. It could also explain why no sign of water has been found on the Moon’s surface, yet there is evidence it exists deep inside. This theory also would explain the strange maria and mascons, perhaps the remnants of the machinery used to hollow out the Moon. The idea of an artificial satellite could explain the odd, rhythmic “moonquakes” as artificial constructs reacting the same way during periods of stress from the Earth’s pull. And artificial equipment beneath the Moon’s surface might be the source of the gas clouds that have been observed.
Intelligent “terraforming” of the Moon could prove the solution to the argument between “hot moon” and “cold moon” scientists — they are both right! The Moon originally was a cold world, which was transformed into a spacecraft by artificially heating and expelling vast quantities of its interior. This theory also could explain the seeming contradictions over the question of a hollow moon. If the Moon originally was a solid world which was artificially hollowed out, there would be evidence of both phases—exactly what we have with current Moon knowledge.
An artificially hollowed-out Moon would explain why the satellite rings like a bell for hours after struck and why specimens of tough, refractory metals such as titanium, chromium and circonium; “rust-proof” iron; Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 have been found there.
In fact, the spaceship moon theory may come closer than any other in reconciling the questions over the origin and amazing orbit of the Moon.