The white dot in the middle of this picture of the Moon is a TLP photographed in 1953.
…Because the bright patches are ephemeral, lasting only last a few minutes, these events have come to be known as transient lunar phenomena, or TLPs. “About 1,500 of these have been reported,” Crotts said.
Astronomers already know they’re not meteorite impacts. Those produce brighter, briefer flashes as the meteorite hits the surface and vaporizes.
But nobody yet knows what TLPs are—or even whether they truly exist. Many astronomers think they’re simply optical illusions or figments of observers’ tired eyes and overactive imaginations.
Crotts believes the time has come to put the riddle to rest once and for all. Scientists have long believed the moon to be a dead world, but if TLPs are real, then some form of geological activity must still be going on.
In that case, said his colleague Peter Schultz of Brown University, “if we were to go back to the moon, we might be able to go to these places and discover something absolutely new about its ancient history or its deep interior.”
Catching a Fleeting Phenomenon in the Act
Funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration, Crotts, Schultz, and their team have set up two 10-inch (25-centimeter) robotic telescopes, one in New York City and one at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile. The instruments are far enough apart that, most nights, at least one will have clear skies.
In a project begun last year and expected to continue at least into 2010, each telescope is photographing the moon every 20 seconds. At each site, the images are fed into computers that can examine them for changes that might signal a TLP.
“We want to start catching these things in the act,” Crotts said.
That may sound easy, but it’s not. Minor disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere can also cause lunar features to brighten, dim, or distort.
I doubt Dr. Peter David Beter’s account of the “secret Rockefeller moon base”, but since we had the A-bomb in 1945, I wonder if we shot one at the moon to see what would happen in 1953. Did the technology exist to hit the moon with a missile in 1953? I think the Atlas Convair was our most powerful rocket at that time.
In December, 1953, the US Air Force pulled together all its various satellite efforts into a single program known as WS-117L. – thespace
In 1953, the Soviets exploded a thermonuclear device and were supposedly working on ICBMs to carry uranium and hydrogen warheads. – pilotfriend
In 1953 Convair had completed the initial design studies. The Atlas was to be a huge 27 m (90 ft) long, 3.6 m (12 ft) wide rocket, with five engines producting 2700+ kN (600000+ lb) of total thrust. The size was deemed necessary to launch the expected very heavy (65 ton) thermonuclear warhead to intercontinental range. Because of the limited accuracy of then available intercontinental guidance systems, a megaton-class thermonuclear warhead was necessary for the Atlas to be effective against hardened targets. … In 1954, the H-bomb tests in the Pacific showed that the warhead for the Atlas could be made significantly smaller and lighter than expected – astro
The timeline is off, but not way off. Targeting would have been the hard part I think.
According to Dr. David Whitehouse, however, a bright flash was also seen on the moon in 1178, reported by Gervase of Caterbury. That would rule out any wacky theories of us A-bombing the moon.
One thing that I have come to believe from studying history is this: If human hands (especially military hands) can do something which may give us an advantage in some way, they will try it, despite the risks. I’ve heard, for example, that there was debate among scientists regarding the possibility that the first A-bomb could destroy our entire planet’s atmosphere. To find out for certain, they tried it.
Edward Teller, whom history would later dub the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb made a bet that the Trinity Test (Gadget) might cause a chain reaction that would ignite the whole of the Earth’s atmosphere, killing every living thing on the planet. While most viewed that outcome as all but impossible, there was sufficient “wiggle room” in the calculations used to predict the bomb’s output that the Manhattan Project scientists actually started a small betting pool on the suspected force of the atomic blast. – luckpup
Speaking of the bomb, this is an interesting look at history.
The good news is that we have not used atomic bombs in war again in more than 60 years. Good job. Keep it up. Meanwhile, someone should invent some Star Trek style energy shields that stop both force and radiation… just in case.