Mysterious Moon Base Discovered? Not So Fast.

By Ernie Mastroianni | January 30, 2014 1:12 pm


Earlier this month, when a few high-traffic news websites reported a strange object or wedge-shaped craft on Google Moon, I was skeptical. Surprised, too, because when I opened the application, there it was, a distinct V-shape of bright lights inside a tiny crater on the moon’s far side. It did not look natural. I marked its location at 142 degrees and 34 minutes east and 22 degrees 42 minutes north, at the edge of Mare Moscoviense.


Websites run by the Houston Chronicle, the Mail Online, and the New York Daily News all sourced their reports to the Youtube video by Wowforreel, whose channel offers generous helpings of UFO-related fare.  The video of the V-shaped anomaly has drawn more than 1.4 million viewers and national advertising. Surely this was an alien chaser’s dream come true. AnomalyWebsitesR

But this is no home-grown digital spoof.  The anomaly is there, in a small corner of a high-resolution image that Google credits to JAXA, the Japanese space agency whose Kaguya spacecraft took the photo. Either everyone was in on this—or more likely, my astrophotography experience told me, these are digital imaging artifacts.

Lots of Lights

Taking a wider look at the Kaguya photo, I noticed small lights in the shadows of dozens of small craters.  The lights were arranged in circles, lines, arcs and clusters, all deep inside black lunar shadows. And they were everywhere. If these are alien craft, we’re in for a major invasion.


I contacted Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, where the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera is managed. The spacecraft has photographed nearly the entire surface of the moon in sub-meter resolution.

The LROC images are online and publicly available. All the old Apollo lunar landing craft are visible, and you can even see tracks made by the lunar rovers. In short, it would be hard for a large wedge-shaped craft to escape detection under such scrutiny.

Moon Truth

That opinion is shared by Mark Robinson, a geologist, planetary scientist and the LROC’s principal investigator. Robinson and his colleague Jeff Plescia directed me to a close-up photo of the crater, taken by the LROC under better lighting. On the crater’s floor is nothing but rocky rubble and moon dust.


Mick West, who runs the debunking website, also convincingly argues that the object is a digital byproduct.

“The answer is that Google stores multiple resolution image tiles, and uses a different set of tiles depend on how much you are zoomed in,” West explained. “The higher-resolution tiles have some filters applied to them, to make them seem sharper. Unfortunately it seems these sharpening filters have created some noise along the boundaries between light and dark regions, and that is what has created these dots.”

In the case of the mysterious V-shaped object, the crater’s adjacent bright rim is also V-shaped, which the dots dutifully follow.  So no, a few simple digital artifacts arranged in neat rows are not evidence of a wedge-shaped spacecraft—but are perhaps proof of how easy it can be to see things that we want to see, while ignoring what is really there.

Ernie Mastroianni is Discover’s photo editor and an avid astrophotographer.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
  • Lucy Volkova

    Thanks bunches for posting about this. I have been seeing friends share this ‘newly discovered alien moon base’ for a week or two and was equally skeptical. After researching it on my own, I also came to the conclusion that it was most likely a digital artifact – wouldn’t be the first time. Stories like this are fascinating for another reason: they speak volumes about human psychology, and that’s very real. Thanks again!

    • fpleti2

      Interesting. If it were real, what would the correct response be to the general public in order to control the population psychology?

      • KotsNieuws

        Something along the lines of what you just read. If you were sarcastic I’m sorry for spoiling your pun.

      • jeremyjanson

        That they haven’t invaded yet and we don’t have any reason to think they’ll do so now. The moon has weaker gravity, making it more useful for their likely purposes anyways.

      • HeywardShepherd

        Take off the Tin Foil hat jeeeez.

  • SpaceShuttleAlmanac

    Well said. These rumours feed the insatiable appetite of the uneducated to discover alien subject matter, Im glad this one is put to rest.

    • jeremyjanson

      Stay classy…

  • TomD

    It goes to show that old-fashioned photographic film has its virtues in comparison with digital photography.

  • pvphoto

    While the likelihood of this report is very slim, the explanation given in the article was next to worthless. If they wish to conclude this is a digital byproduct they must do more than say it is so, they must supply some proof. Proof of your theory works both ways and demeaning a site as “offers generous helpings of UFO-related fare” is just bad journalism.

    • jeremyjanson

      You clearly missed the last two photographs. I agree that one could get this impression from only reading the first few paragraphs, but then, this article is also longer than the first few paragraphs and for a reason. I agree that perhaps they should have included a better introductory paragraph so the reader is more expecting the full length, but that is a matter of style, the substance is fine.

    • HeywardShepherd

      OK… Prior to digital photography NASA and many other sources had tens of thousands of excellent pictures of the moon and never saw anything like this. Apollo was able to take highly detailed photographs from low orbit. Nothing like this was seen. Not until digital cameras and CGI were we treated to these “amazing” images.

    • FreznoBob

      I agree pvp, proof would be showing another similar photo with similar artifacts. If it’s true then it’s repeatable otherwise it’s just a deflection from admitting they don’t know.

  • Piero Giorgi

    You mean that someone actually believed that there was an alien spacecraft on the moon?
    Probably the same people that believe in chemtrails.
    The Youtube University is making mankind dumber every day.

    • Redvern

      Youtube is really amorphous, selection is according to their suiting.

  • ryssgarden

    Digital artifacts are a well known phenomenon. Demanding that a theory be provided as an explanation is like demanding that a theory be provided to explain the sun rising in the east, or water boiling at 100° C.

    • fpleti2

      Water boils at any given temperature all one needs to do is adjust the pressure.

      • SixSixSix

        Not 1 Kelvin.

    • FreznoBob

      Of course, the last thing we want scientists doing is proving their theories, it makes for very bad fiction and doesn’t allow the cloistered scientists to go off on tangents.

  • SEG65

    Transient Lunar Phenomena are not a ‘byproduct’ of imagination. NASA itself studied it before the Apollo stronauts went to the moon. To be sure, we still don’t know what it is, but worth being cautious either way and research should be done.

  • tim gueguen

    Finding supposed alien spacecraft and structures in photos of the Moon is nothing new. Back the ’70s one George Leonard wrote Somebody Else is On The Moon, a book of supposed alien machines and structures on the Moon he saw in various NASA photos. The few photos I’ve seen with his notations always looked just like photos of rock. I seem to remember “Mars Face” promoter Richard Hoagland was claiming at one point to have seen alien artifacts in Moon photos as well.

  • SixSixSix

    We are watching you…

    Flash, Snowden reveals secret NSA base on the moon to spy on Martians including Americans visiting Mars. Time for another uproar!

  • Randy Burk

    Send the auto-bots to investigate.

  • jeremyjanson

    Awwww!!!! Now I know that we aren’t going to be invaded by Moonmen (except possibly California Governor Jerry Brown)! Why did you have to ruin a little boys dream?

  • Michael Copeland

    Have you read the article about a consultant for NASA and the NSA going under an alias ‘Dr. Norton’ that reported large craft approaching Earth?

  • Ken Brandt

    Someday something real is going to show up in one of these photographs, and everyone is going to dismiss it because of things like this. :)

  • Joe Barbera

    As usual here are the government paid disinformation spreaders lying about what’s obviously there. People are not seeing what they want to see, they see what’s there. Stupid government think we are stupid to buy their b.s.

  • Guest

    Liars! The moon is occupied by alien forces and theres buildings and structures in and around Tycho crater on the side facing the earth and Tikhomirov the side facing away from the earth and all over the moon. The earth is controlled by these forces, they control the banks and religion. We have been under their control for thousands of years and have even been slaves for them mining here on earth and the moon. Their are roads leading into mines all over the moon.

    • HeywardShepherd

      OK Giorgio… I’m not saying it’s aliens but it’s aliens.

  • Joe Barbera

    Liars! The moon is occupied by alien forces and theres buildings and
    structures in and around Tycho crater on the side facing the earth and
    Tikhomirov the side facing away from the earth and all over the moon.
    The earth is controlled by these forces, they control the banks and
    religion. We have been under their control for thousands of years and
    have even been slaves for them mining here on earth and the moon. There
    are roads leading into mines all over the moon.

  • jerrybawlsmak

    digital artifacts, lens flare, misidentified junk … is what they always say

    • HeywardShepherd

      But you know the truth. Gives you a warm feeling of satisfaction doesn’t it?

  • natewells

    All your base are belong to us.

  • jwkempton

    I just heard they discovered Klingons around Uranus

  • mike fiera

    Actually if you listen to the interview with the scientist working for the NSA, they were tracking 3 large L shaped objects traveling very fast, which docked behind the moon, but prior to that had disappeared from view several months earlier.

  • Herne Webber

    Meh. Solar winds and assorted other lunar weather events cover and uncover very large rocks. As far as objects circling the moon, who ever said there were no micro-satellites (presumably asteroids) around it? That’s not to crap all over your (and my) hope that aliens might deign to visit us; but Occam’s Razor is a Law of Nature: the simpler the suggestion, the closer to the truth one comes, than employing more complex suggestions gets us.

  • jinjin

    Alien on moon..nobody will anounce it…-_-

  • Kelsey Gray

    If anyone actually believes this “explanation” you need to do some research. Lies upon lies. The top part that is white in the original photo is clearly a roof, the lights were an entrance for the returning disk ships that travel to earth while mother ships stay on the moon, there is proof of nasa blowing things up to hide the truth. Guarantee this is another one. They blew it up and made a new creator. Problem solved. Use common sense, because from looking at those 2 pictures alone, you can deduce this. In no way would bad lighting cause the first picture to look like a v shaped entrance and then a creator in the next one, not only that look at the dust pattern around the creator, very much a blast hole.


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