Night Sky Gaze
the moon

Paparazzi Moon: Flashes of Light Coming From Outer Space

A strange phenomenon occurs on the moon several times a week called transient lunar phenomenon (TLP). TLP is the scientific label given to flashes of light that are caused by quick shifts of light and darkness.

These flashing lights can be easily seen from Earth and are quite noticeable, yet their cause is still unknown. However, a German astronomer named Hakan Kayal may be on the brink of discovery with his latest project.

A New Telescope System

Professor of Space Technology at JMU in Bavaria, Germany, Hakan Kayal believes that “seismic activities on the moon cause the surface to shift allowing gases that reflect sunlight to escape from the interior of the moon.” This sunlight reflection is what causes the flash of lights seen from Earth.

In April 2019, Kayal and his team created a lunar telescope and put it in operation at a private observatory located in Spain. Spain’s weather conditions are more favorable for observation than that of Germany.

The telescope consists of two cameras that both watch the night sky each day. If both cameras see a TLP at the same time, the telescope reacts differently by taking photos and videos of the event and stores the data to be sent via an email to Kayal and his team.

Artificial Intelligence Integration

The first official TLP sighting was by a Russian astronomer in 1958. Since this discovery, the European Space Agency has built their own telescope which has determined that these flashes of light occur more often than once thought.

In order to better pinpoint why this happens, Kayal wants to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the software that the telescope uses to detect flashes and other light events. He wants to ensure that the telescopes recognize the right type of flashes rather than planes or birds flying in front of the camera lens.

Much work still needs to be done in regard to software enhancements in order for Kayal to feel confident in his new device. Once he feels that all components are working at optimal levels he will compare his findings with that of the European Space Agency to confirm the results.

New Discoveries Breed New Competition

As technology and machine learning increase, competition among countries grows stronger. The exploration of space has always been a contested race and every country wants to stake claim to being the forerunner of the latest achievements for mankind. It’s a healthy competition that breeds innovation and discovery.

Bryan Brammer