While the mainstream media gushes over the announcement that NASA found more water on the Moon – even though it will take massive amounts of energy to extract it from giant mounds of soil — another discovery announced just before the water revelation received less attention despite being more mysterious.
“I’ve studied a lot of craters on the Moon, this is different. This is not like your regular [crater]. It looks like there is an object inside.”
Apollo lunar scientist Peter Schultz revealed during Science Channel ‘NASA’s Unexplained Files’ program that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was taking a picture of Mare Insularum (Sea of Islands), an ancient volcanic basin, and captured a nearby 130-foot-wide crater. The shape was non-circular, eliminating it from being an asteroid impact. But … there was a 58-foot-long (17.6 meters) resting in the bottom of it. The shape of the object and the location reminded some NASA old-timers of a seismic experiment during the Apollo moon missions that failed at the last minute. Could this be part of it?
“The plan was to measure shock waves from impact in order to find out more about the inner structure of the moon. We had seismographs on the surface of the moon that would have recorded the effects of the S-IVB. It was very valuable for those who tried to develop a picture of the inner mass of the moon from the seismograph and how it was.”
A video of the late Col. Al Worden, command module pilot for the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971, describes the experiment conducted during the following Apollo 16 mission in 1972. The S-IVB is the Saturn rocket booster that puts the spacecraft in lunar orbit before it is detached and crashes on the surface. Not wanting to waste a good crash, NASA saw it as a way to capture data on the mass of the Moon.
Unfortunately, NASA lost contact with the booster just before impact. However, the 15-ton booster was thought to be solid enough that it could survive the 500 mph (800 kph) impact, so astronomers and lunar researchers keep scanning photos and data for it. nearly 50 years later, they found it.
Is this a big deal? Definitely. It means there could be more remnants of spacecraft on the lunar surface – both from Earth and possibly from extraterrestrials. The booster, if it can be examined, could provide valuable data on conditions on the Moon for future missions. Finally, it’s one more memorial to those revolutionary, history-changing Apollo moon missions.
Does that beat finding a few more drops of water?