25 August 2014

"Music" heard on the back side of the moon

During a podcast of No Such Thing as a Fish, the elves mentioned in passing a "symphony" heard by astronauts on the far side of the moon.  Today I found the following at Above Top Secret:
Most of us Conspiracy Researchers will recall the case of Apollo 10 Astronauts : Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan and John Young discussing the “outer-spacey” music they head while on the far side of the moon. This music happened during the LOS (loss of signal) period that occurred while the communications between themselves and mission control were temporarily unavailable due to their position behind the moon. Gene Cernan is the first to hear the music (in the LM) and the transcripts shows that he radios John Young in the CSM to confirm he is hearing the same thing. John young then replies “Yea, I got it too…….and see who was outside?” Not only does JY confirm he hears it, but look at his following statement, “and see who is outside” ! Now who could be “outside” the space vessels?! More importantly John Young is inferring that there may be a connection between the “music” and “who is outside” of their crafts. After a few minutes of dialogue regarding the mission Gene Cernan brings up the topic again, “boy, that sure is strange music” in which John Young replies “ Were going to have to find out about that. Nobody will Believe us.”

During their next orbit of the dark side the “music” RETURNS. Addressing Tom Stafford this time Gene Cernan asks “You hear music Tom? That crazy whistling?” In which Tom Stafford replies “I can hear it.” Gene replies “that’s really weird” and Tom replies “it is.” Further on Gene AGAIN brings up the subject by stating “Listen to eerie music”. They even continue random dialogue regarding the music and how eerie and weird it was, and that nobody is going to believe them. 
More at the link, where you can access Apollo 10 transcripts and experiences by other astronauts.  Here is one possible explanation:
There hasn't ever really been an "official" explanation of these sounds (described as whistling and buzz-saw sounds). But most scientists offer that it could be attributed to either radio interference in the lander or perhaps an artifact of the Sun's solar wind.
Since the most prominent example of this sound was when the Apollo 15 astronauts were on the far side of the Moon, it could be suggested that the Moon's gravity was gravitationally focusing the Sun's wind (a mix of high energy charged particles) onto the capsule. That interaction would created electromagnetic distortions, which could produce sounds inside the capsule.

5 comments:

  1. >[ ,,, ] it could be suggested that the Moon's gravity was
    >gravitationally focusing the Sun's wind (a mix of high energy charged
    >particles) onto the capsule

    That's highly unlikely, as a little math and thought will show.

    a) Gravitational focusing produces a very small lens effect -- the focal point is many many diameters away from the moon. The Apollo capsules orbited much lower. So its highly unlikely that this could produce an effect.

    b) Such effects should have been also seen on other, unmanned lunar orbiters which recorded their observations and transmitted it back to Earth. None were seen.

    c) What possibly could have caused the effect? Passing through the solar wind is a lot less of an effect than passing through the Earth's magnetosphere (the Earth's magnetic field) and radiation belts. SO you would expect the effect to be much more pronounced at other times in the mission. None were encountered.

    Moreover, to produce a sound in space you need to have something vibrating or reacting inside the spacecraft. In a vacuum like space, there is no sound. THe shell of the Apoll was a good Faraday cage, with very limited penetrations for antennas and the like. So what's vibrating? A little math will show the amount of magnetic enerty needed to make the whole spacecraft vibrate is just tremendous -- to the point that you'd be seeing huge magnetic disturbances on the Earth.

    d) So.. most likely you were hearing overtones and interference from the existing Apollo radios. Remember this was 1969, using hardware that had been designed in the mid 1960's. This was state of the art in 1969 - http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/blaupunkt_marimba_7659500_7659500.html

    Radio interference easily produces tones and whistles and sounds. You can get "chords" fairly easily by harmonics caused by interference. We sort of forget today with modern digital and FM systems how much interference and staticy old VHF radios had. The Apollo went for the simplest systems they could do, because they wanted the highest reliability for something to operate at the Moon. On board the Apollo were multiple fans, sensors, a very simple computer (I've seen hand held calculators today with more power), radars, radios and etc.

    The most likely cause was when the Apollo went behind the moon, the radio and other systems went into "high gain" searching for a signal from the ground. Think of it as turning up the volume on your old car radio -- you hear a lot of static and interference. And since our brains are wired to interpret random data and try to find patterns in them, we hear "tones" and "whistle" and the like. But its really just interference and static. A fan kicks on, and you hear a "thrummmm" or tone from the rotating electic motor. A valve kicks open/shut and you hear thumps or whistles. A circuit is energized and you hear the tone from the line being energized, and then a chord as the return signal is echoed from the termination side.

    As a side note, this is what Voyager spacecraft heard around Jupiter, as it listend to the interference and interactions of the solar wind and planetary magnetosphere, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3fqE01YYWs Kinda cool in my opinion

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    Replies
    1. Nice detailed analysis. Thanks, Wales.

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  2. Follow up comment.. I ran a quick calc on the numbers for a lunar gravitational lens effect. To see the lens effect you need to be 3,985,252,616 diameters of the moon away. The Apollo missions orbited in about 200 km orbits above the lunar surface. Since the moon is about 1738 km in radius, that's not any where near the lensing point

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  3. And as a follow up -- NASA never did an "official" response to this, since they never thought people would fixate on this. However, a pretty official response is from one of the astronauts who encountered this.

    From Chapter 13 of Carrying The Fire by Michael Collins: "There is a strange noise in my headset now, an eerie woo-woo sound. Had I not been warned about it, it would have scared the hell out of me. Stafford's Apollo 10 crew had first heard it, during their practice rendezvous around the Moon. Alone on the back side, they were more than a little surprised to hear a noise that John Young in the Command Module and Stafford in the LM each denied making. They gingerly mentioned it in their debriefing sessions, but fortunately the radio technicians (rather than the UFO fans) had a ready explanation for it: it was interference between the LM's and Command Module's VHF radios. We heard it yesterday when we turned our VHF radios on after separating the two vehicles, and Neil said that it 'sounds like wind whipping around the trees.' It stopped as soon as the LM got on the ground, and started up again just a short time ago. A strange noise in a strange place."

    Note that other crews described it as "wind whipping in the trees", and "woo-woo" sounds, not "music"

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    Replies
    1. "wind whipping in the trees" looks similar to some static white noise.

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