Sleeping Astronaut Causes Earthquake on the Moon

[Image: NASA’s lunar seismometer, via Wikipedia].

First of all, I know it’s inaccurate to say there was an “earthquake” on the moon, but I’ll use the phrase nonetheless.

In any case, I was delighted to read that the tax-funded Apollo 11 astronauts, upon landing on the surface of the moon, installed a seismometer “sensitive enough to detect Neil Armstrong‘s movements during sleep,” in the words of Wikipedia. The movement of a dreaming astronaut recorded as a tectonic event in space.

From a project called the “Johnson Space Center Oral History Project“—specifically, an interview with Dr. Don Lind, released in May 2005:

This [instrument was] deployed about thirty feet from the Lunar Module, and during the first night on the Moon, the crew had gone back [into the Lunar Module]. They were sleeping before the takeoff the next morning. And the seismic station picked up something. They didn’t think it was a meteor impact at a distance. It was something really close. So the science team called the Mission Control Room and said, “Did some relief valve just go off, or did some mechanical [operation] go on in the Lunar Module?”

They went down the line and quizzed every single [controller]. The last one on these surveys was always the flight surgeon. When they got to him, he said, “Oh yes. Exactly at that moment, Neil turned over in the hammock.” That was registered on the seismometer thirty feet away out on the lunar surface. [That’s how sensitive it was.] That was very satisfying.

A sleeping astronaut causes earthquakes on the moon! There are few images as evocative as the idea of slumbering astronauts from another planet, huge and dreaming, unleashing waves of seismic activity across the celestial body they’ve landed on, like gods rolling over in their sleep.

Or, reversing this, as if you could perform a kind of dream analysis on sleeping astronauts by reading between the lines of inexplicable seismic disturbances. Seismic dream therapy applied to visitors from another world.

3 thoughts on “Sleeping Astronaut Causes Earthquake on the Moon”

  1. "Moonquake" — everybody knows immediately what it means, and you don't have to apologize for using the wrong word.

  2. Seismic instruments are very sensitive indeed. In Europe, seismic stations nears the Alps pick up the rolling of the waves of the North Sea – and of course, every station in Europa picks up the constant 50Hz micro-quakes… caused by slight imbalances of the axles of generators in power plants. Back in the 70s and 80s the micro-quakes weren't quite 50Hz, because power plants in the Soviet Union used a different frequency and caused interference.

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