Page three, above the fold; reasonably big news, but nothing to bump Task Force Photon saves city dam! from page one for.
Mysterious explosion on moon
By Rolf Nasser, Times staff
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN, COLO. - Officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command Center (NORAD) announced today that their instruments registered a massive explosion on the surface of the moon yesterday evening.
"The explosion was in the northern part of Mare Nectaris, near Crater Daguerre," said General Theophila Cyrus, operations director for the Observation and Recording Office at NORAD. "We believe it originated underground and possessed the force of approximately 5,000 tons of TNT."
A five-kiloton explosion is roughly a third the strength of the atomic bomb used at Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. However, Cyrus said there is no indication that the explosion was nuclear in origin.
"No abnormal radiation was detected at the time of the blast, nor has there been any indication of any other fission byproducts," she said.
Scientists at NASA say that there is nothing in the moon's makeup that could produce a natural underground explosion. Our nearest celestial neighbor is seismically and volcanically inactive.
"The Mare Nectaris explosion was probably the result of an impact by some foreign body," said Dr. Ray Cowland of NASA's Ames Research Center. "These impacts are not uncommon - they're responsible for most of the craters and other features we see on the surface of the moon today."
Cowland added that it was possible the explosion was man-made. Several organizations are known to have, or have had, outposts on the moon, including the U.S. and former Soviet governments, the 5th Column, and at least four now-defunct supergroups. Authorities agree, however, that there is no evidence of alien activity.
"The site has been quiet since the explosion. Our sensors have shown no signs of life or activity," General Cyrus said. "Of course, we're keeping a close eye on the area, but so far there is no cause for concern. Whatever caused the explosion, it gives every appearance of having been an isolated incident."
According to an Associated Press report, the government of the Etoile Islands released an announcement disavowing any involvement in the lunar explosion shortly after the blast was recorded by NORAD's sensors. Better known as the Rogue Isles, the Atlantic island nation is home to the international criminal organization Arachnos, whose leader, the infamous Lord Recluse, is a sworn enemy of Paragon City.
Speaking in her capacity as commander of Longbow, the paramilitary arm of Freedom Corps established to combat Arachnos, Ms. Liberty said her agency would conduct an investigation into the crime syndicate's disavowal. However, she echoed Cyrus's reassurances.
"We have no reason to believe this incident will affect anything here on Earth," she said. "Still, it bears looking into, and Longbow has the resources for a more in-depth analysis."