13 Moon Mysteries That Scientists Are Trying to Figure Out
Even though it’s right there above us, close enough to visit, scientists still have a lot of questions about Earth’s own moon.
What is a lunar lava tube?
Courtesy Travis Burke Photography
A Japanese probe using a radar system that can map underground topography recently found a cave 30 miles long and 60 miles wide on the moon. Scientists believe it was formed by volcanic activity at least 3 billion years ago when a flowing stream of lava developed a hard crust on the outside while the molten rock continued flowing through the inside. NASA has found a number of small pits on the moon’s surface that might be openings to similar tubes, and space agencies are optimistic that these underground tunnels would make good locations for manned space missions, and might even be sources of water for astronauts.
Why do wolves howl at the moon?
Well, wolves do howl at night, and sometimes the moon is visible when they’re making a lot of noise, but researchers have actually not been able to confirm that wolves howl any more when the moon is full than during a new moon. Their close relative the domesticated dog, on the other hand, does seem to be affected by moon phases—they visit veterinary emergency rooms 28 percent more often when the moon is full (cats visit 23 percent more often). Full moons also encourage corals to release eggs and sperm and make doodlebugs dig bigger holes. Here are some myths about full moons that you can safely ignore.
Do humans act crazier during full moons?
Aristotle thought the brain might be affected by the moon like tides are because the brain is “moist,” but scientists are now pretty sure that’s not true. Still, cops and emergency room nurses will swear (anecdotally) that their jobs get really crazy during full moons, even though researchers haven’t been able to find any replicable studies showing that crimes, suicides, or psychiatric problems increase then. But there is some evidence that people get about 20 fewer minutes of sleep during a full moon than during a new moon. Next, check out these spooky facts you never knew about the moon.