Feeds

Two-lane BRIDGE FOUND ON FAR SIDE OF THE MOON!

Boffins still sceptical of alien/Elvis involvement

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

In blockbusting news, a NASA spacecraft has discovered a bridge wide enough to carry a two-lane road on the far side of the Moon.

A bridge on the Moon near the King Crater. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Not so good for playing pooh-sticks.

Images sent back by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) as it sailed above the King Crater caused excitement among investigating boffins on Earth as the bridge was revealed. According to Mark Robinson, Principal Investigator of the LRO Camera team:

Who would have thought? Natural bridges on the Earth are typically the result of wind and water erosion - not a likely scenario on the Moon.

The LROC boffins also specify that "the bridge is approximately 7 meters wide on top and perhaps 9 meters on the bottom side, and is a 20 meter walk for an astronaut to cross from one side to the other". It spans a lunar pit or canyon two to four stories deep.

Robinson and his colleagues, excitingly, consider that the bridge may well be something to do with the networks of underground tunnels previously spotted on the Moon by the LRO.

Disappointingly, the lunar bridge and tunnel discoveries aren't considered to be the work of escaped Nazis - perhaps having fled the collapsing Third Reich in an early rocket ship developed from the V2 missile programme - while constructing a hidden Moonbase. Nor are the various other widely-accepted lunar farside/subselenean dweller theories - Elvis, aliens, Tibetans etc - given any credence.

No, the NASA selenologists think rather that the formations occurred as lava flowed away from beneath them in the past, leaving solid tunnel roofs (and in this case a bridge) still in position above the vacated space. According to Robinson, the bridge would have been created during the violent meteor strike which formed the 77-km-across King Crater:

The impact melt that was thrown out of the crater pooled on the newly deposited ejecta and must be many tens of meters thick, allowing its interior to stay molten for a long time. As the local terrain readjusted after the shock of the impact, the substrate of this massive pool of melt was jostled to some degree. Local pressures built up and the melt moved around under a deforming crust.

You can see that the south end of the bridge extends from a small local rise, shaped something like a blister. Perhaps some melt was locally pushed up forming the rise, then the magma found a path to flow away, leaving a void which the crusted roof partially collapsed? Right now we do not know for certain...

Though President Obama has lately said that humans will not return to the Moon as had been intended (the LRO was actually intended to identify good landing spots and Moonbase sites), there remain plans for less ambitious lunar missions - perhaps even featuring small tunnelling robotic mole-cruisers of some sort.

It may yet be possible for humans to gaze at the underside of the spectacular Moonbridge, even if only by proxy. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.