Certainly the most conspicuous crater on the Moon is Tycho in the southern
hemisphere. (For context, we have placed a full Hubble Telescope
image of the Moon
here). The crater is some 85 kilometers in
diameter, displaying enigmatic “rays” that extend at least a quarter
of the way around the moon.
peak, said to have been formed by a “rebound” of subterranean
material, rises about 2 kilometers above the crater floor. Planetary
scientists suggest that the flat floor of the crater (seen
was formed by the pooling of melted material.
But the idea
that an impact would create such an extensive pool of molten rock
finds no support in impact experiments or in high-energy explosions.
Not even an atomic explosion creates a flat melted floor of this
sort. The force of the explosion shocks and ejects material. It does
not hold the material in place to “melt” it into a lake of lava.
brilliant engineer, Ralph Juergens, considered the lunar craters
Tycho and Aristarchus, he noted the distinct features of electrical
discharge. He wrote in 1974, “…If Aristarchus and Tycho were
produced by electric discharges, their clean floors would be just
about what one would expect. The abilities of discharges to produce
melting on cathode [negatively charged] surfaces and generally to
‘clean up’ those surfaces have been remarked upon since the earliest
experiments with electric discharges”.
envisioned an interplanetary arc between the Moon and
an approaching body (for his analysis, he summoned the planet Mars).
While an instantaneous explosion does not have time to create a lava
lake, an electric arc involving a long-distance flow of current
between two approaching bodies, “would persist beyond the instant of
any initial touchdown explosion”, leaving material melted in place.
saw Tycho as a “cathode crater”, and he drew special attention to
Tycho’s “spectacular system of rays”. These, he suggested, are the
very kind of streamers an electrical theorist would look for—a
signature of the electron pathways that triggered the Tycho
the astronomers’ consensus today is that the streamers are the
trails of material ejected from the crater into narrow paths over
extraordinary distances. But the “rays”, Juergens noted, have no
discernible depth, while material exploding from a Tycho-sized
crater “would at least occasionally fall more heavily in one place
than in another and build up substantial formations. But no one has
ever been able to point out such a ray ‘deposit’”.
presence of the narrow rays over such long distances, according to
Juergens, is “all-but-impossible to reconcile with ejection origins.
Enormous velocities of ejection must be postulated to explain the
lengths of the rays, yet the energetic processes responsible for
such velocities must be imagined to be focused very precisely to
account for the ribbon-thin appearance of the rays”. In fact, this
challenge has found no answer in more recent scientific exploration.
No experimental explosion at any scale has ever produced anything
comparable to the well-defined 1500-kilometer “rays”
Even more telling is the fact that the rays are punctuated with
numerous small craters. An early explanation was that "some solid
material was shot out with the jets and produced 'on-the-way'
craters". But such narrow trajectories for secondary impactors are
an absurdity under the mechanics of an explosion. And the total
volume of ejected material needed to form the secondary craters
along Tycho's rays, would amount to some 10,000 cubic kilometers –
an amount of material entirely inconsistent with careful
measurements indicating that practically all material excavated from
Tycho's crater has been deposited in its rim. However, the ray
elements, terminating on small craters, are the very markers that
today’s electrical theorists have cited repeatedly as definitive
evidence of an electrical discharge path. As Wallace Thornhill has
so often observed, such discharge streamers frequently
terminate at a crater. In fact, this is exactly what Gene
Shoemaker found when investigating the puzzles of Tycho—"...many
small secondary craters, too small to be resolved by telescopes on
earth, occur at the near end of each ray element."
compared to an imagined sphere of the Moon’s average radius, the
surrounding highland region occupied by Tycho is more than 1200
meters above the “surface” of that sphere. The crater site appears
to be at the summit, or very close to the summit, of terrain that
trends downward in every direction away from the site for hundreds
of kilometers. For the impact theory,
this location can only be an accident. But for the electrical
theorists, the elevation on which Tycho sits is not accidental.
Lightning is attracted to the highest point on a surface. (That is,
of course, the principle behind lightning arrestors placed on the
pinnacles of tall buildings).
astronomers see Tycho’s rays as material ejected from the focal
point of an impact, a mere glance at the picture above is sufficient
to make clear that not all of the streamers radiate from a
central point. Is this surprising? A mechanical
impact has a single focal point and cannot explain
these offset rays. Juergens noted that they "diverge from a common
point, or common focus, located on or buried beneath the western rim
of the crater." The electrical interpretation of Tycho sees the
streamers as paths of electrons rushing across the lunar highlands
to the highest point, where it launches into space to form the
lightning "leader" stroke. The high point is destroyed in the
process. The powerful lightning "return stroke" that forms the Tycho
crater comes minutes afterwards and focuses on the nearest high
point, a few kilometers to the east. In support of this explanation,
the crater Tycho is surrounded by a dark halo of ejecta that
blankets the extensive ray system, laid down earlier.
crater rim rises about one kilometer above the surrounding terrain
and the crater walls exhibit terraces (shown
here) that are
not characteristic of high energy explosions. However,
such terracing is observed in innumerable instances of
electrical discharge machining. (See the large terraced crater in
the picture on the right
here). This terracing may be due to
the fact that electrical current flows in plasma in the form of
twisted filament pairs – rather like a double helix. So the
terracing is caused by the cutting action of the rotating current
filaments on the crater wall. Indeed, some lunar craters exhibit
bilateral corkscrew terracing – another observation
inexplicable by the impact model, but remarkably consistent with the
principle of an arc constituted of twin rotating “Birkeland
is possible to get a “rebound peak” close to the center of an
explosion, such a peak is not typical. In the electrical cratering
experiments by plasma physicist CJ Ransom, (as seen
central peaks were often the norm. As long ago as 1965, attention
was drawn to the similar incidence of craters with central peaks in
lunar craters and laboratory spark-machined craters. They seem to be
an effect of the rotating current filaments, which may leave the
center of a crater relatively untouched.
electrical theorists find great irony in the many examples of
earlier researchers who pointed to the electrical properties of
phenomena that official science eventually learned to ignore. In
1903, W. H. Pickering, in his book The Moon, suggested that
electrical effects could account for the narrow paths of Tycho’s
“rays”, and he drew a direct comparison to the streamers seen in
auroral displays. But as occurred so frequently in the twentieth
century, evidence of electrical activity in space was ignored
because it found no place in gravitational cosmology or in the
curricula of astronomers and geologists.
Lunar Craters—a Failed Theory
The Puzzles of