Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lingering lunar flashes may be eruptions

Transient Lunar Phenomena, or TLP's have come under renewed study in recent years, though the vast majority of reports have been traced either to the illumination of high grounds and peaks behind the sunset and ahead of sunrise on surrounding terrain.

NASA carried out a two-year continuous observation of the Moon's unlit Nearside and recorded the nearly instantaneous flashes of hundreds of meteoric impacts. Until and during the Apollo Era eminent planetary scientists continued to argue about the obvious role of volcanism in the formation of lunar features. The belief that a far larger percentage of lunar craters could be remnants of volcanoes, and not impacts, quietly died away.

Nevertheless, the idea that at least some "active" geological processes, if only from an occasional release of trapped gases shaken free from impacts and moon quakes, has never been ruled out. completely.

"If you tie all this together in one package, you can convince yourself there's a story here," said lunar and planetary scientist Dr. Paul Spudis. "At one time the Moon had volatiles; it might still have some remnant of those in the deep interior," he says.

Lucas Laursen, writing in Nature reports, "Reports of ephemeral flashes of light seen on the Moon, dismissed by some as imaginary, could be due to the explosive discharge of gas beneath its surface. The analysis, by astronomer Arlin Crotts of Columbia University in New York, may breathe new life into investigations of its geological activity and history.

Crotts mapped about 2,000 observations of bright flashes called transient lunar phenomena (TLPs) reported by astronomers during at least the past 350 years. The flashes last too long to be meteorite impacts, and many researchers have dismissed the reports as observational errors.

But when Crotts compared the most commonly reported sites of observation with a map of known gas leaks from the Moon's surface, he found a strong correlation. "It really boils down to just a small number of sites where [TLPs] are happening consistently," he says. "That's almost exactly the same list of sites where people have seen radon [gas]."
Read the bulk of the Article HERE.

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