Moon Over Mankind – WIF Space

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Fascinating Facts


Our Moon

Ever since man looked up at the stars, he has been fascinated by the big round white hunk of rock that hangs in the sky above us. The Moon has featured in religious beliefs and in the lore of countless cultures and societies. Due to human curiosity, we set out to understand the Moon further, and what we have learned is sometimes even more interesting than the legends themselves. Join us below as we explore our Moon and revel in its glory.

10. Helium 3


Many people, upon hearing that countries still plan to return to the Moon, often wonder why. Some people don’t really think much of a big hunk of dull rock that isn’t even made of cheese. However, the Moon has something much more valuable than stale Gouda underneath the surface. Enter Helium 3, a lightweight isotope that could single-handedly fix our energy problems. Helium 3 can be used in nuclear fusion sans the radioactivity, making it a way safer process. This isotope has already been tested, and has been found to be incredibly efficient. While mining it would be extremely expensive, the costs would be well worth the gain. Imagine a future with safe, affordable, clean energy for the entire world.

9. Water


These days, scientists are on a roll finding all kinds of cool new things, and the Moon has been no exception. While many people would suggest all kinds of strange things that could be on the Moon, such as extraterrestrial beings or maybe all of those socks that you lose in the washing machine, what scientists actually found is much more surprising. Using remote imaging, scientists scanned the crater Bullialdus near the equator of the Moon, and found water molecules locked in the rocks deep below the surface. Found beneath the surface, it is referred to as magmatic water and is thought by scientists to have originated due to solar wind that impacted on the surface of the Moon.

8. Preserved Footprints


As you know, our Moon doesn’t really have much in the way of an atmosphere, but what you may not realize is that this has some very interesting implications. Namely, things don’t erode very easily, so the footprints left by US astronauts in the ’60s and ’70s are still preserved, and should be for a long time. This unique situation has given a brand new thing for people to worry about, and US lawmakers spent time that they were getting paid for in an attempt to legislate the issue. You see, some people are worried that, with commercial organizations getting into space flight and other countries working towards landing on the Moon, that we needed to make sure no one messes with our historical imprint. For this reason, lawmakers tried to pass a bill making the Moon landing site a national park. This failed, though NASA has asked people to at least attempt to respect the original lunar landing site, should they somehow end up there.

7. Spaceship Moon Theory


It’s a God! It’s a huge hunk of cheese in the sky! It’s … an alien spaceship? The Moon has been the victim of many strange origin stories over the years. Many have been convinced that the Moon is some sort of God that needs to be worshiped, and some people actually think it is made of cheese. However, perhaps the oddest theory is that the Moon is the remains of an alien spaceship left orbiting earth. The theory starts with the supposition that aliens have been seen on the surface of the Moon. At one point, the United States even experimented with remote viewing, although they decided it was pure rubbish.

But it gets weirder. Those who subscribe to the theory claim that the Moon’s deposits of rocks such as chromium, titanium and zirconium were actually because they were strong building materials for the alien’s enormous spaceship. Those who believe this claim that the Moon’s surface is actually armor plating and was used to protect from meteorite impacts, although they believe the Moon has been abandoned for some time.

6. Moonquakes


Over forty years ago while visiting the Moon, astronauts left seismometers that sent data back to the scientists waiting on good old terra firma for results. These seismometers were left active for over a decade and now many years later a professor from Notre Dame and his team set to work once again looking at the data.

What they found is that the Moon has earthquakes or “moonquakes” as it were. Apparently there are several different kinds of quakes that can happen on the Moon. The first are hundreds of miles below the surface, some are simply vibrations set off by meteorites striking the surface. Still others are simply due to thermal expansion. and then there are the shallow moonquakes, the ones that, according to the scientists, we need to watch out for. These are only tens of miles below the surface and can reach a 5.5 on the Richter scale. However, quakes on the Moon have some features that differ from ours and make them more intense. Many of these shallow moonquakes went on for a good ten minutes, and the researcher in charge said the Moon was “ringing like a bell”. Learning more about these quakes is very important if any country is ever to set up a base on the Moon.

5. The Man in the Moon


Long ago before all of our precious modern technology, man looked up at the Moon and wondered about it. For one thing, what was that strange outline that looked like a man on its surface? Wanting to explain the strange shape, people made up many different stories about the Man in the Moon. While these stories have different variations they usually feature a man who was banished to the Moon as punishment for working on the Sabbath and some versions include a woman who was punished with him for a similar crime. However, some legends suggest the man was actually Cain, exiled to our lonely Moon as punishment because his offering was not pleasing to God.

4. Moon Base


Suggesting that NASA will build a base on the Moon has turned into almost something of a joke in the United States. NASA keeps talking about it and people keep making plans or claiming it is going to happen, and it just never quite gets off the ground. However, while the United States may have been the first to land on the Moon, they may not be the first to establish a permanent base. Supposedly, the Russians plan to head to the Moon with some cosmonauts in 2025, and hope to have a base established a few years later, but they have the countries of Japan, China, and India close on their heels. China especially has ambitious plans of their own and has come up with advanced concepts for their own plans to establish a fully-working base on the Moon by the year 2050.

3. Blue Moon


You’ve probably at some point in your life heard the expression “once in a Blue Moon” and thus know it means something that doesn’t happen very often. However, interestingly there is some confusion as to how not often a Blue Moon actually occurs. Some people are under the impression that it is when two Full Moons happen in the same exact month, but this isn’t accurate. Essentially, a Blue Moon is when a particular season has four Full Moons instead of only three.

Much more interesting though, is that under certain circumstances the Moon can truly appear blue to the naked eye. According to scientists, volcanic eruptions can cause huge plumes of ash to spread out over the atmosphere and scatter red light particles. Particularly strong eruptions such as the volcano Krakatoa caused people to see blue Moons and lavender suns for literally years. According to some people as recently as the 1980’s, after the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption a Blue Moon was visible in some parts of the world.

2. Outer Space Treaty


We mentioned earlier that one lawmaker tried to have the lunar landing site made into a national park, but it turns out that there is a really good reason why his legislation failed. It may not be obvious to those outside the US at first, but the Moon is not actually our property. The Moon orbits the Earth, and is not claimed in particular by any one group of people.

This presents a unique problem when it comes to colonizing, mining from, or even landing on the Moon. Many years back, during the Cold War, some people were afraid the Moon might end up a serious point of contention, perhaps even used as a military base or a place to launch missiles. After much diplomatic back-and-forth, a treaty was finally agreed upon that essentially makes the Moon international territory, from which no one is allowed to conduct any military operations.

1. Dark Side of the Moon


You’ve probably heard the phrase “dark side of the Moon” before; after all, it was one of Pink Floyd’s most well known albums. What you might not realize though, is that the phrase actually doesn’t make any sense. You see, the Moon is mysterious and has a whole secret life we know nothing about, and by that we mean there is a half of the Moon we never see. However, while the Moon only shows one side to us, it still shows both sides to the Sun, and the “dark side” gets plenty of light. Interestingly, if you take this the other way around, it means that if you looked at the Earth from the surface of the Moon, you would end up with the same effect. The Earth would continue to show you the same side, and remain in the same place in the sky every single day.

Moon Over Mankind –

WIF Space

Moon Facts – Yours, Mine and Theirs

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Facts About Moons

– Yours, Mine and Theirs

It’s our closest celestial neighbour, gave us our first ever calendars, dictates the timing of religious events like Easter and Ramadan, and was considered a deity in most ancient religions. Here are ten things you might never have guessed about our moon and others.

10. It doesn’t make us mad…


The words “lunatic,” “lunacy” and “loon” all come from the word “luna,” meaning moon. The moon’s effect on tides was noted as long ago as over 300 years BC, and the Ancient philosophers Aristotle and Pliny the Elder believed that the brain was mostly liquid, and that the full moon could cause tides in our brain, which would make us go temporarily insane. In popular culture and general belief, the full moon is a trigger for insanity. But there’s no scientific evidence that the lunar cycle has any effect on our behaviour. In the 1980’s, a psychologist and an astronomer teamed up to do what’s probably the most thorough investigation to date into whether the moon really does make us mad. They analysed 37 independent scientific studies and found absolutely no link between strange happenings and the phases of the moon.

9. …but we think it does


But if the moon doesn’t make us mad, why do so many of us think it does? Partly, Hollywood is to blame. With so many horror stories and movies of werewolves and witchcraft based around the full moon, it’s difficult not to get a bit subconsciously freaked out by it. Psychologists blame something called “illusory correlation” for our persisting beliefs that luna makes us lunatic. Illusory correlation happens where we think there’s a correlation even when it doesn’t exist, and one of the reasons we fall prey to it is that we remember events clearly whereas non-events fade into the background. So if we believe, even subconsciously, that people go a bit funny around the time of the full moon, and we see something that ‘proves’ that, we forget about all the times there was a full moon and nothing happened at all.

8. And the full moon does make things a bit weird


Werewolves might not be real, but at least one  “wereplant” is. In the full moon,Ephedra foeminiea plants secrete a sugary liquid which shimmers in the moonlight, attracting insects which feed on the sugar and leave pollen behind, which E foeminiea then uses to fertilise its seeds.

And a study carried out by researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland discovered that on full moon nights, people took longer to get to sleep, slept for a shorter time and reported that they “had not slept as well.” The study was carried out on volunteers who were shut away from natural light for days at a time, and so couldn’t know it was fill moon or be affected by the extra light. EEG readings from these volunteers showed that a type of brain wave called delta waves, which occur during deep sleep, were 30% lower when the moon was full.

There is a theory that in times gone by, when human lives were dictated by natural light, we wouldn’t have slept as well during the full moon, just like it isn’t easy to fall asleep in a bright room nowadays. A lot of mental illnesses can be exacerbated by sleep deprivation, so it follows that maybe the “lunar lunacy effect” was real once, even if it’s not real anymore.”

7. We’re not done discovering moons


By definition, a moon is an object locked in orbit around a planet, or even around an asteroid. While we have just one moon, there are at least 182 in our solar system. Mars has 2, Neptune has 14, Uranus 27, and Jupiter and Saturn have a staggering 67 and 62 moons respectively. Many dwarf bodies also have moons, and new moons are still being discovered. The last moon to be discovered was the 14th moon of Neptune, which was discovered by a team of researchers at the SETI institute on 15 July 2013, and is currently known as S 2004 N1 ahead of being officially named. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the International Astronomical Union has been responsible for naming any new moons. Before that, moons were generally named by the astronomers who discovered them, but not always – Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, was discovered in 1655 but not named until 1847.

6. We don’t know how the moon formed, but we think it might have been an astronomical car crash


The most widely accepted theory as to how our moon formed is the Giant Impact Hypothesis. As the Earth was forming, another planet called Theia, about the size of Mars, smashed into it. The Earth and the smaller planet (the impactor) fused together, and the collision would explain why the Earth is inclined at 23° rather than vertical. After the crash, a pile of debris was blasted off the Earth, which started to orbit due to the planet’s gravity and eventually coalesced to form the moon. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that many, but not all, of the most common chemical elements that make up the Earth are also found on the moon, and the similar age of the Earth and the moon. But there are other theories. Like that the moon formed somewhere else and was “captured” by the Earth’s gravity, or that the Earth captured several tiny planets (planetesimals) which coalesced to form the moon.

5. Our moon is unusually big, and nearly as old as we are


The Earth’s moon, Luna, is the fifth largest in the solar system. But of the eight largest moons in our solar system, seven of them orbit the “gas giants,” Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets. In general, big moons orbit big planets and small moons circle small planets. Dactyl, a tiny moon that orbits an asteroid, is the smallest known moon, being less than a km in diameter. Luna’s total mass is 1.2% of the Earth’s, making it unusually large in relation to our planet.

Analysis of rock samples brought back from the Apollo missions means we know the surface of the moon is made up of the mineral plagioclase, which are the “highlands” or pale areas we can see, with darker “maria” or “seas” made of basalt lava. The oldest part of the moon is the highlands, and the oldest known moon rocks are 4.46 billion years old – almost but not quite as old as we are, with the Earth thought to be 4.56 billion years old. Both of these facts lend support to the Giant Impact Hypothesis.

4. Everyone thought the space race was a massive waste of time and money


For a human to walk on the moon was a sensational achievement- such an achievement, in fact, that many people believe it never happened and was staged as part of a Cold War propaganda conspiracy. Given the enormous success at the end, it’s easy to imagine that the whole world was moon mad – especially in the US, which had lost the first leg of the space race when Russia’s Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. In fact, space flight was one of the top things Americans wanted cut in the 1960’s, with up to 66% of Americans believing that the government was spending too much money on it. At a time when people were living with the fear of real war from an enemy whose full capabilities were unknown, it’s probably unsurprising that sending people to the moon seemed a bit of a flight of fancy.

In 2013, NASA chief Charles Bolden announced that Americans would not return to the moon in his lifetime.

3. When the first astronauts landed, they must have thought they’d stepped into a horror movie


The moon looks beautiful when we see it from here – but in many ways it’s a hostile place, and Armstrong and Aldrin would be forgiven for thinking they’d stepped into a nightmare when they stepped off Apollo 11 in 1969. For a start, the moon is covered in a fine, glassy, electrically charged powder, moon dust, which NASAastronauts claim was the biggest problem with their missions. Moon dust was so abrasive it could erode its way through three layers of Kevlar-like material on astronauts’ boots, and could clog up the joints on space suits, leaving astronauts unable to move their arms. Moon dust found its way in to the spaceship on astronauts’ suits and caused “moon hay fever.” In 2008, a team of scientists and doctors confirmed that it is toxic to the lungs and might be one of the biggest barriers to long-term stays on the moon.

A less dangerous but no doubt just as alarming feature is the moon shadow. Shadows on the moon are much darker than on Earth, being almost but not quite pitch black. Astronauts report not being able to see their own hands and feet, and even more freakishly, a light halo appeared around their shadows.

And given that someone’s remains were scattered on the moon in 1998, and the US government considered detonating a nuclear bomb up there in a cold war show of strength (Project A119),the moon feels a bit creepy.

2. …but we might be able to live there, in readymade “underground shelters”


But despite all these dangers, we might be able to someday safely reside there.

It sounds like something from an Isaac Asimov book, but according to researchers at Purdue University, in theory, we could build underground cities on the moon. When a volcano erupts, lava freezes around the edge first, to form a pipe-like border while the lava underneath continues to flow. The eventual result is a hollow “lava tube.” These are present on Earth, but are likely to be much more stable on the moon, due to a much lower gravity and less erosion. Under lunar conditions, lava tubes of up to several kilometres wide and hundreds of metres high would be stable, and data from a recent Japanese mission, Kaguya, has shown that large underground caves do exist beneath the surface. If any of these caves turn out to be stable lava tubes, they could be, as Prof Jay Melosh put it, “readymade shelter from cosmic radiation and small meteor strikes… they would greatly decrease the cost of creating safe habitats on the moon.”

1. We also might be able to live on someone else’s moon


Life as we know it on Earth has some very specific requirements in terms of temperature, the presence of certain chemicals, and of course, liquid water. Many of the moons in the outer reaches of the solar system contain hydrocarbons (chemicals consisting of hydrogen and carbon, like glucose), which are essential to life. Unfortunately, they’re just too damn cold to live on, or so we thought until 2012, when scientists discovered that Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and Enceladus, which orbits Saturn, have liquid water. Even though they are a long way from the sun, their planets and the moons close to them have such strong gravitational pulls that they create tides, and this “tidal heating” warms up the inside of the moon enough to stop water from freezing. Maybe in the future the International Astronomical Union will have to go beyond naming moons, and start designating postcodes as well.

Moon Facts

 – Yours, Mine and Theirs