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A transient lunar phenomenon TLP or lunar transient phenomenon LTP is a short-lived light, color or change in appearance on the surface of the Moon. Claims of short-lived lunar phenomena go back at least 1, years, with some having been observed independently by multiple witnesses or reputable scientists.
Nevertheless, the majority of transient lunar phenomenon reports are irreproducible and do not possess adequate control experiments that could be used to distinguish among alternative hypotheses to explain their origins. Most lunar scientists will acknowledge transient events such as outgassing and impact cratering do occur over geologic time. The controversy lies in the frequency of such events.
Reports of transient lunar phenomena range from foggy patches to permanent changes of the lunar landscape. Cameron  classifies these as 1 gaseous, involving mists and other forms of obscuration, 2 reddish colorations, 3 green, blue or violet colorations, 4 brightenings, and 5 darkening.
Two extensive catalogs of transient lunar phenomena exist,   with the most recent tallying 2, events going back to the 6th century. Of the most reliable of these events, at least one-third come from the vicinity of the Aristarchus plateau. Explanations for the transient lunar phenomena fall in four classes: outgassing, impact events, electrostatic phenomena, and unfavorable observation conditions.
Some TLPs may be caused by gas escaping from underground cavities. These gaseous events are purported to display a distinctive reddish hue, while others have appeared as white clouds or an indistinct haze. The majority of TLPs appear to be associated with floor-fractured craters, the edges of lunar maria , or in other locations linked by geologists with volcanic activity. However, these are some of the most common targets when viewing the Moon, and this correlation could be an observational bias.
In support of the outgassing hypothesis, data from the Lunar Prospector alpha particle spectrometer indicate the recent outgassing of radon to the surface. These observations could be explained by the slow and visually imperceptible diffusion of gas to the surface, or by discrete explosive events. Impact events are continually occurring on the lunar surface.
The most common events are those associated with micrometeorites , as might be encountered during meteor showers. Impact flashes from such events have been detected from multiple and simultaneous Earth-based observations.
Impact events leave a visible scar on the surface, and these could be detected by analyzing before and after photos of sufficiently high resolution. No impact craters formed between the Clementine global resolution metre, selected areas 7—20 metre and SMART-1 resolution 50 metre missions have been identified.
It has been suggested that effects related to either electrostatic charging or discharging might be able to account for some of the transient lunar phenomena. One possibility is that electrodynamic effects related to the fracturing of near-surface materials could charge any gases that might be present, such as implanted solar wind or radiogenic daughter products. Alternatively, it has been proposed that the triboelectric charging of particles within a gas-borne dust cloud could give rise to electrostatic discharges visible from Earth.
It is possible that many transient phenomena might not be associated with the Moon itself but could be a result of unfavourable observing conditions or phenomena associated with the Earth. For instance, some reported transient phenomena are for objects near the resolution of the employed telescopes. The Earth's atmosphere can give rise to significant temporal distortions that could be confused with actual lunar phenomena an effect known as astronomical seeing.
Other non-lunar explanations include the viewing of Earth-orbiting satellites and meteors or observational error. The most significant problem that faces reports of transient lunar phenomena is that the vast majority of these were made either by a single observer or at a single location on Earth or both.
The multitude of reports for transient phenomena occurring at the same place on the Moon could be used as evidence supporting their existence. However, in the absence of eyewitness reports from multiple observers at multiple locations on Earth for the same event , these must be regarded with caution. As discussed above, an equally plausible hypothesis for some of these events is that they are caused by the terrestrial atmosphere. If an event were to be observed at two different places on Earth at the same time, this could be used as evidence against an atmospheric origin.
One attempt to overcome the above problems with transient phenomena reports was made during the Clementine mission by a network of amateur astronomers. Several events were reported, of which four of these were photographed both beforehand and afterward by the spacecraft.
However, careful analysis of these images shows no discernible differences at these sites. Observations are currently being coordinated by the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers and the British Astronomical Association to re-observe sites where transient lunar phenomena were reported in the past.
By documenting the appearance of these features under the same illumination and libration conditions, it is possible to judge whether some reports were simply due to a misinterpretation of what the observer regarded as an abnormality. Furthermore, with digital images, it is possible to simulate atmospheric spectral dispersion , astronomical seeing blur and light scattering by our atmosphere to determine if these phenomena could explain some of the original TLP reports.
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Transient lunar phenomenon
Ivl profiche IMF. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. University of Arizona Tucson. Middlehurst and J. The catalogue of lunar events which follows contains all information avail- a b l e t o t h e a u t h o r s u p t o A p r i l 1 5 , Column 1 gives a running number, column 2 the date of occurrence, column 3 the site and duration of the event, column 4 a short description of the phenomenon, column 5 the name s of the observer or observers, and column 6 the number of the reference.
NASA Document TR R-277 – Moon Anomalies Log