“The moon was like this awesome, romantic, mysterious thing, hanging up there in the sky where you could never reach it, no matter how much you wanted to. But you’re right. Once you’re actually here it’s just a big dull rock. I guess I just wanted you to see it through my eyes, the way I used to.” – Philp J. Fry
There are a lot of mysteries and conspiracy theories where the moon is concerned. This post will delve into just one of them.
Conspiracy Theory: The moon is artificial and the evidence of this has been kept secret by world governing bodies.
For a host of reasons, which we will go into below, there has been a persistent belief within some circles that the moon is artificial. For the purposes of this discussion, when I discuss the moon being artificial, this encompasses both its materials and its placement (i.e. It could be a hollowed out rock from another solar system flown here like a space ship, or it could have already been here, maybe not far from where it is now, and just moved into its current orbit by an unknown intelligence. Either would make it “artificial.”)
Is the dispute reasonable?
Is the evidence of a naturally occurring moon so strong as to render this unworthy of discussion? Is there any evidence of an international conspiracy to control the discussion on this topic? Let’s examine some of the claims made by “artificial moon truthers” and see if these claims are enough to create some doubt about the earth’s largest satellite.
Is the “natural” formation of the moon well-understood and agreed upon?
No. There are a few theories as to how the moon was formed, but all of them have flaws.
Theory # 1: Giant Impact Hypothesis
The prevailing theory supported by the scientific community, the giant impact hypothesis suggests that the moon formed when an object smashed into early Earth. Like the other planets, Earth formed from the leftover cloud of dust and gas orbiting the young sun. The early solar system was a violent place, and a number of bodies were created that never made it to full planetary status. One of these could have crashed into Earth not long after the young planet was created.
Known as Theia, the Mars-sized body collided with Earth, throwing vaporized chunks of the young planet’s crust into space. Gravity bound the ejected particles together, creating a moon that is the largest in the solar system in relation to its host planet. This sort of formation would explain why the moon is made up predominantly of lighter elements, making it less dense than Earth — the material that formed it came from the crust, while leaving the planet’s rocky core untouched. As the material drew together around what was left of Theia’s core, it would have centered near Earth’s ecliptic plane, the path the sun travels through the sky, which is where the moon orbits today.
The Flaw of Theory #1
Most models suggest that more than 60%of the moon should be made up of the material from Theia. But rock samples from the Apollo missions suggest otherwise.
“In terms of composition, the Earth and moon are almost twins, their compositions differing by at most few parts in a million,” Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti, an astrophysicist at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, told Space.com. “This contradiction has cast a long shadow on the giant-impact model.”
Cure of These Flaws
In 2020 research published in Nature Geoscience, offered an explanation as to why the moon and Earth have such similar composition. Having studied the isotopes of oxygen in the moon rocks brought to Earth from Apollo astronauts, researchers discovered that there is a small difference when compared with Earth rocks. The samples collected from the deep lunar mantle (the layer below the crust) were much heavier than those found on Earth and “have isotopic compositions that are most representative of the proto-lunar impactor ‘Theia’”, the study authors wrote.
Back in 2017, Israeli researchers proposed an alternative impact theory which suggests that a rain of small debris fell on Earth to create the moon.
“The multiple-impact scenario is a more natural way of explaining the formation of the moon,” Raluca Rufu, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and lead author of the study, told Space.com. “In the early stages of the solar system, impacts were very abundant; therefore, it is more natural that several common impactors formed the moon, rather than one special one.
Theory #2: Co-Formation Theory
Moons can also form at the same time as their parent planet. Under such an explanation, gravity would have caused material in the early solar system to draw together at the same time as gravity bound particles together to form Earth. Such a moon would have a very similar composition to the planet, and would explain the moon’s present location. However, although Earth and the moon share much of the same material, the moon is much less dense than our planet, which would likely not be the case if both started with the same heavy elements at their core.
In 2012, researcher Robin Canup, of the Southwest Research Institute in Texas, proposed that Earth and the moon formed at the same time when two massive objects five times the size of Mars crashed into each other.
“After colliding, the two similar-sized bodies then re-collided, forming an early Earth surrounded by a disk of material that combined to form the moon,” NASA said. “The re-collision and subsequent merger left the two bodies with the similar chemical compositions seen today.
Theory #3: Capture Theory
Perhaps Earth’s gravity snagged a passing body, as happened with other moons in the solar system, such as the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos. Under the capture theory, a rocky body formed elsewhere in the solar system could have been drawn into orbit around Earth. The capture theory would explain the differences in the composition of Earth and its moon. However, such orbiters are often oddly shaped, rather than being spherical bodies like the moon. Their paths don’t tend to line up with the ecliptic of their parent planet, also unlike the moon.
Conclusion from the space.com article:
Although the co-formation theory and the capture theory both explain some elements of the existence of the moon, they leave many questions unanswered. At present, the giant impact hypothesis seems to cover many of these questions, making it the best model to fit the scientific evidence for how the moon was created.
CONCLUSION: Dr. Robin Brett, long-time NASA scientist, has the following to say about the moon’s formation:
Dr. Brett: “All three theories have weaknesses. The composition of the returned lunar samples makes it difficult to derive them from anything like the composition of the earth’s mantle. This, therefore, makes the fission theory extremely unlikely. And if the moon was formed as an identical twin planet with the same composition as the earth’s mantle, the same argument applies against that theory. The capture theory presents difficulties in celestial mechanics and is regarded as statistically fairly improbable.”
So, concluded Dr. Brett, “It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the moon than its existence.”
If science is willing to entertain multiple theories as to the moon’s formation, including a “capture theory” which posits that the original formation of the moon may have occurred farther out in the solar system, then in my opinion, the science of the moon’s formation is not so settled as to rule out that the moon was placed in its orbit artificially.
What are the anomalies which lead some to believe it might be artificial? Based on the evidence, is it reasonable to entertain the idea of it being artificial?
- The moon “rings like a bell” when impacted. From NASA.gov:
Apollo 13 was headed homeward. Moments later the 15-ton spent third stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle crashed into the Moon, as planned.
It occurred at 8:09 p.m. EST, April 14. The S-IVB struck the Moon with a force equivalent to 11 1/2 tons of TNT. It hit 85 miles west northwest of the site where the Apollo 12 astronauts had set up their seismometer. Scientists on Earth said, “the Moon rang like a bell.”
Back in November 1969, the Apollo 12 astronauts had sent their Lunar Module crash- ing into the Moon following their return to the command craft after the lunar landing mission. That Lunar Module struck with a force of one ton of TNT. The shock waves built up to a peak in eight minutes and con- tinued for nearly an hour.
The seismic signals produced by the impact of s-IVB were 20 to 30 times greater and four times longer than those resulting from the LM crash. Peak intensity occurred in 7 minutes.
The information from these two artificial moonquakes led to reconsideration of theories proposed about the lunar interior. Among puzzling features are the rapid build- up to the peak and the prolonged reverbera- tions. Nothing comparable happens when objects strike Earth.
One theory is that the signal is scattered and repropagated in very deep rubble. An- other holds that the velocities of seismic waves from these impacts are comparable to meas- urements of velocities in crystalline rock. So the crystalline material which the astronauts found so abundant on the Moon’s surface may extend very deep into the Moon.
An article at PopSci.com provides an explanation:
Between 1972 and 1977, scientists recorded 28 shallow moonquakes registering as high as 5.5 on the Richter scale. On Earth, that will move heavy furniture and crack plaster, but the vibrations usually die down in a matter of minutes.
It all comes down to water. There’s moisture in the materials that makes up our planet, expanding their structure. As energy from an earthquake moves through our planet, that damp material acts like a sponge, absorbing the energy of the waves and ultimately deadening their effects. But the Moon is dry, cool, and rigid, more like a solid rock than a sponge. So even if a moonquake is less intense, there’s nothing to deaden the vibrations. They just go back and forth through the body until the solid stone eventually stops them. The “ringing bell” is the shock waves reverberating through that stone.
The world should have better and more reliable data on the substances which make up in the moon in the coming years as plans are now being made world-wide to mine the moon. Some countries, per the Artemis Accords, will be mining the moon in the near future. A competing group of nations, led by China and Russia, will also be mining the moon.
One of the spurs for this new space race is the discovery of large quantities of titanium on the moon’s surface.
CONCLUSION: While this “rings like a bell” phenomenon is interesting, the natural explanations seem to make sense. Perhaps new data from the moon mining missions will shed new light on this topic. In any event, I believe that if the moon is in fact a thin layer of dirt, covering a hollow round titanium space ship, a lot of effort is being made to conceal this, a lot of people must be “in the know,” and a lot of false information is being disseminated to the public to perpetuate the lie. If you’re covering up a huge secret, you don’t want to put out something (fake data, scans, etc.) that can become a red flag pointing out your lie when it is fact-checked later in history.
- Relative to Earth, the moon is unusually large. In fact, the moon of Earth is the largest moon – relative to its planet – in the entire solar system. Its proportionate size may even be exceptionally rare outside of our solar system. From Space.com:
Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop.
Earth spins around its orbital axis, changing its angle toward the sun — its obliquity — by a little more than a degree over the course of thousands of years. These small differences are significant enough to cause the ebb and flow of ice ages.
The unique size of the moon, relative to Earth, is actually an important component of the “rare Earth hypothesis” which argues that our planet is much more unique than science fiction writers might lead one to believe. From Forbes:
Thus, Forbes.com decided to check in with Ward about the status of the authors’ “Rare Earth” hypothesis.
Does the Kepler news about earth-sized planets in habitable zones change anything for you?
Not a thing. We know that earth-sized planets are out there. That does not make them “earth-like” necessarily.
In “Rare Earth” you and Brownlee wrote that not only intelligent life, but “even the simplest of alien life is rare” in the cosmos. Have your views changed?
Animals are going to be extraordinarily rare because so many planetary processes are going to be detrimental to their [evolution].
The majority of planets are going to be where metallicities are highest — close to the centers of galaxies. But in the galactic center you are also so close to other stars. There, gravity is going to pull comets out from other stellar systems. How can complex life form if you get your ocean sterilized by a comet of 20 to 30 kms in diameter every 200,000 years?
What about the moon’s effect on ocean tides?
More and more now, we’re seeing suggestions that the giant tidal range [of earth’s oceans] coming in and out after the lunar-forming collision might have been necessary for life to form. It allows stuff to come together; it’s wet and then evaporates. And a few hours later, it does it again. Intertidal pools are the single best [place] to form life. No large moon, no intertidal pools, and possibly no big moon and no life at all. If we find that [lunar-induced] tidal changes are necessary to form life, it may be that we need to say “rare life” instead of just “rare earth.”
CONCLUSION: This is a philosophical question. Is a thing being extremely unusual – and precisely what we needed – proof that it is unnatural / intelligently designed or is it that sometimes things are purely lucky and coincidental? People disagree on things like this. As a result, I suspect this is worthy of conversation and that it merits continued work on the science end of things.
- The moon’s orbit is, well, weird. From the University of Maryland:
The moon, Earth’s closest neighbor, is among the strangest planetary bodies in the solar system. Its orbit lies unusually far away from Earth, with a surprisingly large orbital tilt. Planetary scientists long have struggled to piece together a scenario that accounts for these and other related characteristics of the Earth-moon system.
A new research paper, based on numerical models of the moon’s explosive formation and the evolution of the Earth-moon system, comes closer to tying up all the loose ends than any other previous explanation. The work, published in the October 31, 2016 Advance Online edition of the journal Nature, suggests that the impact that formed the moon also caused calamitous changes to Earth’s rotation and the tilt of its spin axis.
The research suggests that the impact sent the Earth spinning much faster, and at a much steeper tilt, than it does today. In the several billion years since that impact, complex interactions between the Earth, moon and sun have smoothed out many of these changes, resulting in the Earth-moon system that we see today. In this scenario, the remaining anomalies in the moon’s orbit are relics of the Earth-moon system’s explosive past.
- The moon is in the perfect position to provide a full eclipse of our sun. This is extremely rare since no other planet’s satellite (that we have observed, at least) can do this. This has led some theorists to suggest that the moon was *placed* in the position it is in to have this affect on our planet.
On average, the distance to the Moon is about 385,000 km (239,000 mi) from Earth’s center, which corresponds to about 60 Earth radii or 1.282 light-seconds.
The distance from Earth to the sun is 150M km (93M miles.) This distance is dubbed “1 astronomical unit” in other circumstances.
150M km / 385,000 km = 389.610389
The sun’s diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers (864,000 miles), or 109 times that of Earth.
The moon’s diameter is 3,474 km. (Diameter of the Moon in miles: 2,159 miles)
1.39M km / 3,474 km = 400.115141
The distance between the earth and the sun is not a consistent number because the earth’s rotation around the sun is oval shaped. Earth, at its closest position relative to the sun, is about 91.4 million miles (147.1 million km) away. Earth at its farthest position from the sun, is approximately 94.5 million miles (152.1 million km) from the sun.
152.1M km / 385,000 km = 395.064935
147.1M km / 385,000 km = 382.077922
Neither of these are perfect matches to the ratio of the diameters of the two objects, but it is close enough to be conspicuous. In addition, it should be mentioned that the sun is itself not a perfect sphere, nor completely consistent, so the diameter number above is also an average.
In any case, the nearness of these ratios (diameters and distances from Earth), to one another, is why the sun and the moon appear to be roughly the same size in the earth’s sky. It is why we experience eclipses.
CONCLUSION: The weird orbit of the moon should be lumped together with its weird size relative to Earth. It’s a philosophical question at this point. Unless or until science can better explain things, the rarity of this circumstance means we get to (and should) debate whether this is all just a serendipitous coincidence or not.
As to the moon being artificial: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and yet, it seems that one of two things are true. Either the Earth’s moon is an extraordinarily rare natural occurrence that benefited life here by accident, OR it was engineered by an unknown intelligence. Whichever side of that debate you stand on, the result of the rare earth-moon relationship seems to be that it paved the way for life on our planet. Since there is not sufficient evidence in either direction (natural or not), I have no problem with the arguments for a naturally formed moon or the “it’s artificial” claims. I do feel pretty comfortable believing, though, that if the moon is artificial, it is FAR more likely that it is a gigantic space rock which was intentionally placed in our planet’s orbit, than that it is a hollow space ship. The scans of the moon, which we use to identify the moon’s composition, do not point us in the direction of “space ship” just yet. From the point of view of science, more research is required. Maybe we’ll start digging around up on the moon and find some things that help to answer questions.
Someday, perhaps science will say “we have no idea how this happened short of intelligent assistance” or perhaps someday science will have an explanation, backed up by evidence, that covers all of the “big mystery” variables.
As for the idea that governments of the world are conspiring to withhold evidence of an artificial moon… well, I see no argument for this that holds up, at this point. The lunar subsurface scans can be viewed online. The debate about the origin of the moon is happening out in the open, in major science magazines, in major newspapers, and there is no real effort being made to silence or pushback against the alternative theories.
Is the moon’s formation a huge mystery? Yes. Is there a conspiracy to obscure the true history of the moon’s formation? No, I don’t think so.