What is the truth behind the studies of the Moon being hollow?  Or at least the common beliefs.

I’m sorry to report ha there is no scientific evidence in support of a hollow moon.  This myth was originated by HG Wells’ 1901 book “The First Men in the Moon” and was perpetuated by subsequent literary works such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ mid 1920′s books “The Moon Maid” and “The Moon Men” in which the Moon is hollow, supports an interior breathable atmosphere and is inhabited by a race of “moon men”.  Unfortunately, ideas such as these found in fictional works of literature frequently make their way into the mainstream public eyes and are mistaken for scientific fact.

Some people may argue that the Moon’s lower overall density (~60% that of the Earth’s average density) and seismic ringing from a jettisoned portion of the Apollo 12 lunar lander indicate a hollow moon.  However, the giant impact which formed the Moon stripped off the low-density upper crust of the Earth and is likely the cause pf the low density.  Addition seismic studies as well as moment of inertia calculations and gravity studies all reveal that the Moon has an interior similar to that of the Earth” (from out to in) crust, upper mantle, inner mantle, molten outer core and crystallized solid inner core. For additional “light: reading, check out these scientific papers: Nakamura et al., (1973) “New Seismic Data on the Sate of the Deep Lunar Interior” Science. 181 (4094): pp. 49-51 and Konopliv et al., (1998) “Improved Gravity Field of the Moon by Lunar Prospector” Science, 281 (5382): pp 1476-1480.

Brad Bailey

NLSI Staff Scientist

February 2, 2009

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Did you know?

The distance to the Moon is measured to a precision of a few centimeters by bouncing laser beams off reflectors placed there by the Apollo astronauts.

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