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An astronomer at Columbia University thinks he has solved a 400-year-old mystery: the origin of strange optical flashes seen on the moon's surface. These spots, called 'Transient Lunar Phenomenon' (TLP) by the astronomy community, have confused moon-gazers since the time of ancient scientists. Arlin Crotts now thinks that TLPs are something called 'outgassing', a process where trapped gasses escape to the lunar atmosphere. 'To arrive at his theory, Crotts correlated TLPs with known gas outbursts from the lunar surface as seen by several spacecraft, particularly NASA's Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and the robotic Lunar Prospector in 1998. What he discovered was a remarkable similarity in the pattern of outgassing event locations recorded by spacecraft across the face of the moon and reported TLP sites.'