(TMU) — Since the 1950s, stargazers have witnessed bizarre bursts of light on the surface of the Moon. For just as long, scientists have merely guessed at the cause of the phenomenon. But now, a team of astronomers have a theory — and they plan to test it. What they learn from these tests have the potential to impact humanity’s plan to colonize the moon.
The flashes of light typically occur several times per week, illuminating various areas of the Moon’s surface. There are even places that darken temporarily. The phenomena has never been studied, despite man having visited the satellite.
Explanations for the bizarre flashes include nearby impact of a meteor or electrically charged particles from solar wind reacting with moon dust.
Hakan Kayal, professor of space technology at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria said:
“Seismic activities were also observed on the moon. When the surface moves, gases that reflect sunlight could escape from the interior of the moon. This would explain the luminous phenomena, some of which last for hours.”
A team of German astronomers from JMU are using their new lunar telescope in Spain in an attempt to shine a light on the mysterious bursts. The team chose Spain as their preferred location due to weather conditions that are optimal for lunar observation.
“The telescope consists of two cameras that keep an eye on the Moon night after night. When both cameras register a luminous phenomenon at the same time, the telescope triggers further actions. It then stores photos and video sequences of the event and sends an email message to Kayal’s team,” a statement from JMU reads. After an in-the-works upgrade, a neural network will filter out false positives like birds, airplanes or satellites.
According to Kayal, solving the mystery is of the greatest importance to human survival on the Moon.
“Anyone who wants to build a lunar base at some point must of course be familiar with the local conditions.” Kayal added.