A 40-year-old mystery about rising temperatures on the moon has been solved — and it was probably the Apollo astronauts' fault

Business Insider | 6/12/2018 | Hilary Brueck
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When NASA's Apollo astronauts landed on the moon, they drilled probes into the ground to monitor the moon's temperature.

Apollo mission researchers later noticed that the probes recorded peculiar warming on the surface of the moon.

New - Data - Surface - Astronauts - Temperature

New data suggests that by walking around and poking into the lunar surface, the astronauts themselves changed the temperature on the moon.

The old explorer's adage says to "take only photos, leave only footprints."

Footprints - NASA - Apollo - Astronauts - Consequences

But it seems the footprints of NASA's Apollo astronauts had unintended consequences for the surface of the moon after they landed there nearly 50 years ago.

Newly discovered temperature data from the 1970s moon landings, released in the Journal of Geophysical Research in April, reveals that NASA astronauts probably warmed up the moon's surface temperature by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit by walking around and poking into the lunar surface.

Data - Heat - Flow - Experiments - Moon

The data comes from so-called "heat flow experiments" that were installed on the moon in 1971 and 1972 during the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 missions. For the experiments, astronauts on each mission drilled two holes into the surface of the moon at depths ranging from 3.2 feet to 7.5 feet deep. The astronauts inserted fiberglass tubes into the holes and plopped platinum thermometers inside to read the temperatures at varying depths below the moon's surface. Those probes beamed the temperature data to Earth in near real time.

Apollo data crunchers noticed in 1975 that the thermometers recorded peculiar warming on the surface of the moon roughly four years after the probes were installed. Researchers hypothesized early on that the men who walked on the moon might have prompted the temperature spike, but they couldn't be sure. Other possible explanations included fluctuations in the 18-year lunar orbit pattern, radiation from Earth, or excess heat from...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Business Insider
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