No, NASA Did Not Just Release “Moon Music” Audio Files

Talk of mysterious “Outer Space Music” is sweeping the internet today as NASA’s Unexplained Files released a new episode on the Science Channel about the topic. As the story goes, the astronauts on Apollo 10 were on the dark side of the moon, as far away from the safety of Earth and contact with NASA as they could possibly be. Suddenly, they begin to hear a strange whistling sound, a “moon music” of sorts. These highly trained astronauts are simply shaking in their boots at this unexplainable sound. Listen for yourself, starting at the 2:50 mark:

Don’t those astronauts just sound terrified? Unfortunately, news coverage of the “moon music” phenomenon has blown the innocuous noise somewhat out of proportion. Not only was the sound not from the moon, it was also not music, and it was not recently de-classified. In fact, the Apollo 10 mission transcripts have been publicly available since 1973. According to NASA, they were only classified for 4 years, during the “height of the space race.” While the audio files have only recently, in 2012, been digitized and uploaded to the internet, the files themselves have been viewable in the National Archives for 42 years. You can even read a full transcript of the mission here.

Gizmodo spoke with Bill Barry, NASA’s Chief Historian about the matter:

You are right that the audio is not “newly declassified.” The very short snippet of discussion that has become a subject of wild discussion on the internet over the last 2 days comes from the inside the Lunar Module recording on Apollo 10. All of the space-to-ground communications were a matter of public record, but the cockpit voice recorder (that isn’t the official name, but that is effectively what they did) tapes were transcribed and studied on the ground after each mission. As a matter of normal procedure we don’t make those transcripts immediately available after the mission. (You can imagine the effect it would have if everyone in your office knew that everything they said would be released to the public immediately.)

Now, for the source of that mystifying sound. NASA resolves our fears with a simple, certainly non-alien explanation:

As for the likely source of the sounds, Apollo 10 Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan told us on Monday, ‘I don’t remember that incident exciting me enough to take it seriously. It was probably just radio interference. Had we thought it was something other than that we would have briefed everyone after the flight. We never gave it another thought.’

While NASA’s own Unexplained Files is partially to blame for the internet hoopla over these harmless sounds, news outlets have seriously misrepresented the matter. Come on guys, do your homework.

Madison

“I see a woman may be made a fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.” William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew