Friday, October 12, 2012

Simple mathematics defeats Mike Bara (again)

        On page 108 of Ancient Aliens on the Moon, Mike Bara tells us that this is a satellite dish on the Moon, constructed and used by an alien race long ago:

caption: Satellite dish like crater Asada in the Mare Crisium region. Note the supporting structure under the “dish”

        As usual, Bara has chosen a very old and low-res image to make his point, and deliberately ignored the far better image now available from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Here's what Asada really looks like, at 0.8m resolution instead of about 100m:

credit: LROC

       By the way, Bara has used as an excuse for ignoring LROC images that "the Sun angle is too high to see the artifacts." Oh yeah? Anyway, it sure is dish-like, but is it a satellite dish? Where would this so-called dish get its signal from? There's no comsat in orbit around the Moon now, for sure, but could there ever have been?

A selenostationary orbit

        On Earth, satellite dishes get their signals from (with a very few exceptions) geostationary satellites. These are satellites in equatorial orbits whose period is exactly one day, so they appear to be stationary over a fixed point on the equator. The radius of such an orbit can be simply calculated to be 42,164 km (subtracting the radius of the Earth makes the altitude 35,786 km.) Would the same configuration be possible for the Moon? In other words, could Mike Bara's race of ancient aliens theoretically have placed comsats in selenostationary orbits? Let's see...

The radius of a circular orbit is given by the formula:
r = cube root(µ/v2)

where µ is the gravitational constant of the parent body
v = angular velocity in radians/sec

gravitational constant of the Moon: 4,903 km3 s-2 
rotational period of the Moon 27.32 days = 2.4 x 106 sec 

v = 2π / (2.4 x 106) = 2.6 x 10-6 radians/sec
v2 = 6.76 x 10-12
r = cube root(4903 / (6.76 x 10-12))
r = cube root(725 x 1012
r = 89,800 km

        This is an impossible orbit, since it would take this theoretical satellite beyond the L1 libration point (about 60,000 km from the Moon) and the satellite would therefore be captured by Earth gravity (if this doesn't seem axiomatic to you, brush up your knowledge of Hill spheres.) Interestingly enough, someone with more knowledge than me has calculated that a stationary orbit would never be possible for any tidally-locked body.

Will Mike Bara apologize? I don't think so.


Misti Parker said...

Resolution aside, it's not the same image at all. Are you comparing different images of the same coordinates?

Trekker said...

Misti, as the LROC imagery is far better than the old 40 year-old imagery, it's only natural that the newer, clearer image will bear little resemblance to the older, blurred one.

There's only one crater named 'Asada' on the moon, at coordinates Lat: 7.23267, Long: 49.86316, which is the one Expat posted for comparison.

Enter those coordinates on the LROC image map and see for yourself:

expat said...

Trekker is absolutely right.

FlightSuit said...

If I was Mike Bara, I would accuse you of being a douchebag for thinking I literally meant it was a satellite dish as we understand them. I would suggest that it might be the remains of a giant Maser Cannon, for example:

Or I might fall back on the notion that we can't possibly imagine what the technological capabilities or requirements of the Ancient Aliens might have been.

Misti Parker said...

The qualitative difference between new and old technology is not at issue. The point is that those images are taken by different equipment at different times. I don't see any reference that each image is of the same coordinates.

It could be like a photograph of a 1954 Chevy in LA with a Brownie, and a 1964 Ford in San Diego, with a Polaroid.

expat said...

I'm taking Mike's word for it that the image in his book is of Asada. I can't see why he would lie about that. He doesn't say which mission the image comes from, either. I imagine it's Lunar Orbiter, judging by the shitty resolution.

FlightSuit said...

It's really sloppy science for Bara (and Hoagland, very often) to fail to give you the basic background info on exactly where the picture came from.

I'm still amazed that Hoagland won't pin himself down by listing the coordinates of some of the "lunar anomalies" he's found.

astroguy said...

Sometimes, the reason they won't tell you where the image is is because they don't know. Bara's made a big deal on most interviews that he actually knows what image the ziggurat is from which is "rare" for anomalies.

I wish the host would ask the logical question that if you don't even know the origins of the image, how you know it's real.

Trekker said...


Expat did a blog on the locations of the Castle, the Shard and the Tower here:

They're all in the Triesnecker region, very near the centre of the moon as we look at it.

strahlungsamt said...

The older Moon images were sent back using analog video, meaning they were subject to background noise and interference. Newer probes send everything back digitally, and are therefore noise-free. Factor in low-res video and the fact that they only transmitted images as they were photographed (no hard-drives back then) and it was lucky we have the images at all.

Why anyone would try to find anything in such a low quality image is beyond me. Then again, we're not talking MIT graduates here.

Trekker said...

Misti makes a relevant point when she says: " I don't see any reference that each image is of the same coordinates." Thinking further about that, I downloaded the tiff version of AS16-121-19438, the photo Bara uses when discussing the ‘satellite’ craters Asada and Proclus, and compared the location of both using the LRO map.

He got Asada right, but Proclus wrong. Proclus is unmistakeable for its brighness and its ray system. The crater he calls Proclus is actually Proclus A, some distance out on the light coloured fan that extends out into the Mare Serenitatis.

Indeed, it’s not clear why he chose ONLY Asada and Proclus A for his ‘satellite dishes’, as the poor resolution of AS16-121-19438 would allow him to choose any number of craters to make the same claim. The craters Greaves and Glaisher, in the same location, as just as good candidates for dishes.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I was looking to the picture which describes a dish in a crater.
There is one detail though nobody really paid attention.
Mike Barra's picture is clearly a concave shape in contrast with the LRO picture which is convex shape.
To me that shows we are looking to two different pictures.

What say you?

expat said...

No, anon, you're mistaken. The LRO image is a normal concave crater.

Another point about Proclus and Asada is this -- if they're satellite dishes, where's the receiver? Those things don't function without them, y'know.

Anonymous said...


I am sorry but I see no concave shape on the LRO picture. It doesn't matter the angle of the LRO picture it should show a concave shape.
The LRO image starts with a small dome on top then you see how its shape goes downwards as it is a convex shape.
I am ready to accept your argument if you present an image from a different angle.

So far, the old image Bara uses it clearly shows some kind of parabolic antenna or at least to stay reserved I may say something similar to a parabolic antenna.

expat said...

Let me suggest this: It's a well-known fact that the harsh lighting of the Moon creates optical illusions. Hoagland himself wrote about the convex/concave flip in a slightly different context:

Our eyes expect light to be coming from above -- upwards, in a photograph. If you have any image editing capability, try downloading the LRO image and rotating it 90° clockwise.

Darrell Wolfe said...

@Anon: Obviously you've never taken a basic art class. Optical Illusions from Concave and Convex shapes are not only common, but the study of great artists.

See this site for one example:

You cannot look at one photograph, or two and hope to make any valid conclusion.