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Space & Astronomy

Lost tapes solve 40-year-old Moon mystery

June 10, 2018 | Comment icon 12 comments



The Apollo 17 astronauts used the lunar rover to get around. Image Credit: NASA
Tapes containing data recorded on the Moon back in the 1970s have helped to solve a long-running mystery.
During the Apollo 15 and 17 missions in 1971 and 1972, astronauts deployed special probes designed to relay data back to the Earth about the heat coming from the Moon's interior.

When the data was later analyzed, scientists found a strange increase in temperature that for decades afterwards would remain something of a mystery. To make matters worse, only the tapes containing this data from 1971 to 1974 were preserved - the 1975 to 1977 tapes were lost.

It wasn't until these tapes showed up eight years ago that efforts to solve the mystery could resume.
Now, following an extensive analysis of the data from the missing tapes, scientists have been able to determine that the cause of the mysterious heat on the Moon was the Apollo astronauts themselves.

More specifically, their activity on the surface resulted in the Moon reflecting slightly less of the Sun's light back out in to space, thus raising the temperature by a small amount.

"In the process of installing the instruments you may actually end up disturbing the surface thermal environment of the place where you want to make some measurements," said lead study author Seiichi Nagihara from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Source: Tech Times | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
Nah I astral walked and got all of those years ago 
Comment icon #4 Posted by ouija ouija 4 years ago
 What a load of old codswallop! Codswallop #1: the tapes being 'lost' and then 'found'. Codswallop #2: the reason for the rise in heat.
Comment icon #5 Posted by acute 4 years ago
I totally agree with this promising potential rant! The whole thing sounds like disinformation to me.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
climate warming is now going to be blamed on lost tapes, you watch   !!!!
Comment icon #7 Posted by acute 4 years ago
^ Deeply worrying!
Comment icon #8 Posted by ChrLzs 4 years ago
For anyone interested in some of the facts pertaining to this.... Back in those days, there weren't very many ways to reliably store data, and tapes were often used.  They are big and bulky, difficult to store and retrieve, and making copies was very time consuming so it usually wasn't done.  And frankly, NASA's storage systems sucked... In the mid to late seventies, one of the largest tape manufacturers ran into archival problems with their tapes, and good quality tapes became almost impossible to buy in the quantities needed by NASA.  So they were forced into re-organising their systems, and... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
Yeah towards the end of my military time I was working on the first DTED data base for Air Force mission planning computers and even then the data storage was unreal and bulky and transforming the DTED from the defense mapping agency into the format we needed was agonizingly slow and a massive effort. Two of us did it, just because it was easier than trying to teach a third our system until we got the one baseline done.  First one filled an office.
Comment icon #10 Posted by ChrLzs 4 years ago
And one more thing on the temperature effect... to make it even less like earth... it's not just the vacuum...  The lunar regolith (aka dirt) is very unusual..  Because of all the meteorite impacts and high temperature dust therefrom, it contains a lot of tiny small glass-like globules.  These make the surface very directionally reflective and create a very strong heilegenschein effect, which basically means the surface is very good at reflecting light back pretty much the same way it came in, just like a reflective sign.  Thus, disturbing that regolith so it is not as smooth / flattened out i... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by UFOwatcher 4 years ago
I would have thought EVERYTHING related to the Moon missions would have been carefully documented, cross referenced, securely stored and copied to new media when possible. Guess not.
Comment icon #12 Posted by ChrLzs 4 years ago
Everything important WAS.  This was hardly a moon-shattering experiment...  So would you care to be specific?  The Apollo missions were, without question, the most comprehensively documented human enterprise up to that point, and probably would still rank highly.  Pretty much anything you need to know, can be found. So test me out.... is there something you would like me to reference for you?  A question you would like to ask?  Sure, given that back in those days there was a HUGE amount of paperwork - none of which was able to be digitised - some will have been lost/misfiled or was not thought... [More]


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