This probably sounds like a joke (and it really should be), but it’s apparently a serious discussion taking place this year. There’s climate change on the moon and, obviously, man must have caused it. So will there be wildfires raging out of control? Tsunamis? Hurricanes? No, but the surface temperature is slightly warmer than it was before we arrived fifty years ago. (Business Insider)
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.
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.
There you have it. Manmade climate change on the moon. Of course, that’s a rather disingenuous way to put it since the moon doesn’t really have much in the way of a “climate.” But the surface temperature does change based on how much sunlight it gets. Still, that didn’t stop the author of the article from opining, “if just a few moonwalks can cause a kind of climate change on the moon, that gives scientists a new factor to consider when planning future human missions.”
Seriously? We should take climate change into account when planning a base on a lifeless satellite with no measurable atmosphere? (Okay… the moon does technically have a wispy atmosphere but it’s literally ten billion times less dense than Earth’s.) Just how much climate change do you expect to happen and what would it impact?
All they’re really talking about is the fact that when you dig a hole in the moon to install a temperature sensor, you end up brushing away some of the light colored dust which covers the surface on the near side and exposing some of the darker regolith underneath. The lighter material reflects the sunlight more while the dark rock absorbs it. So basically you’re allowing the specific area around the sensor to heat up a bit more while the rest of the moon stays as it was.
But don’t worry, sports fans. I’m sure Al Gore is starting up a new company to sell moon climate change prevention equipment as we speak.