"I like many of us, have taken this orb for granted most of my lifetime. It is only during the Apollo days that the moon seemed to have more significance."
Okay, this one is going to be a bit different this morning. It is going to sound like a bit of politics, a bit of science, and a wee bit of science fiction. But hold in there - I think you will see my point before it is finished. And the mystery I will talk about in our neighborhood is really our celestial neighborhood. Yes, and that mystery is real close to us. I am talking about our Moon.
I, like many of us, have taken this orb for granted most of my lifetime. It is only during the Apollo days that the Moon seemed to have more significance. Then this past week there were two stories that related to our Moon. The first story was about the passing of Gene Cernan. Gene was the last of us to have walked in the Moon. The second article was about the United States maybe doing the same thing China wants to do. Return to the Moon to mine helium-3. It is thought by many scientists the Moon is rich with this rare element.
First the politics. Even though Newt Gingrich is not on Trump's staff, he does have Trump's ear on certain things. Newt has been a proponent of going back to the Moon for quite a while now. And earlier this month, President Elect Trump was heard to have said that might indeed be in the cards.
Back to helium-3 for a second. The Moon is thought to have over a million tons of this stuff. Energy engineers have estimated that once we have the correct technology, only 40 tons alone could give our country a year's worth of energy. I am sure that China has the same thought.
Now the science. Most of the planets in our solar system have moons. Some big, some small, and some strange. I have always thought the strangest moon in the solar system was Europa (a moon of Jupiter). That moon, with its promise of surface water and possible aquatic life, has fascinated astronomers for years. But our Moon is also an odd ball. Although not the largest moon in the solar system, it is huge considering the size of our planet.
Here is where the mystery deepens. Scientists still to this date do not have a consensus on where our Moon came from. For Earth to capture such a large orb is indeed a mystery. And how far the Moon sits from the Earth is dead perfect for our seasons and tides. However, the moon rocks which came back from the Apollo visits also contain a mystery. It is said they had traces of titanium. And some showed traces of magnetism. Where did that come from? Plus (and this is huge), the core of the Moon is the biggest mystery of all.
When the Apollo flights landed on the Moon, one of the first things done was to set up seismometers on the surface. Once operational, they detected something very interesting. When something impacts with the Moon, or if there is a "moon quake", the sound detected by the seismometers is similar to a "ringing of a bell". Whereas when a major earthquake hits the Earth, seismometers may continue to register the sound for up to 30 seconds. On the Moon, it can go on for a half hour or longer.
Finally, a wee bit of science fiction. There is a growing number of folks who think the mystery of the Moon might be tied up in one fact - the Moon might be hollow. Now before you think I am a lunatic (a bit of Moon humor) for mentioning this, most scientists believe the Moon's core is much different than ours. Maybe not hollow, but very different. And they have no clue why. But some of the science fiction lore has the Moon being artificial - and was "put here" millions of years ago by (who knows). That is all the deeper I am going down that rabbit hole! However, if you want to read the "maybe" to the outright "wacky" on this subject, the internet is replete with tons of articles on this issue.
I will sum this up this article by saying the following - we are going back to the Moon. If not us, China. Or maybe Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos without the help of NASA. We came back from the Moon in the 1970's with far more questions than answers. It is time. No, we are long overdue to return. I just hope it can happen in my lifetime.