Football on the moon? | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 17.07.2009
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Science

Football on the moon?

It's possible: Though lunar football follows different physical rules than on earth. 350 meter crosses - but the ref's whistle is inaudible. And players jumping giant leaps make lunar football very entertaining.

Picture of an astronaut and a football on the moon

More giant leaps on moon

Saturday, July 21, 2029. 5pm, moon time, in the stadium of Mare Fifa: kick off for the final of the annual Moon Cup. The US team, Cosmos Moon York meets the European champs from Lunar United, coached by commander Klinsmann. The game ends 1:7.

Pure fantasy? Well, until now. But the space travelling nations are eager to get people back on the moon by 2020 - they dream of establishing a permanent moon base and they also say that exercise will have to play a major role to counter the shrinkage of an astronaut's muscles. After all, they don’t want Neil Armstrong’s successors to collapse feebly into the moon dust after just a few months up on the satellite. But would it really be possible to play football on the moon?

Imprint of Edwin Aldrin's boots from the first moon landing

Not a football boot, this is astronaut Buzz Aldrin's imprint from the first landing

The main difference to the game, from terrestrial stadiums, is that the moon has far less gravity: In comparison, the moon has one sixth of the earth's gravity. That would have amazing effects: What might be a neat 60 m cross on Earth could easily turn into a 350 meter volley up on the moon. The ball could reach a height of 50 meters – and it would stay up in the air much longer. Of course, that would also mean that the playing field needs to be reconsidered. Though space is clearly not a problem on the moon, it could however lead to gigantic gaps in the team's defense. And the fans up in the stalls had better come equipped with binoculars.

Naturally, astronaut footballers would be jumping much higher. The games would look quite funny with high flying balls and athletes taking gigantic leaps – a football ballet in slow motion. And the team jerseys would come equipped with full-pressure suits.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong with flag on the moon

Jersey for moon sports

When the ball hits down into the thick moon dust, lots of energy would be lost – the bouncing effect would be far less pronounced compared to the bounce on the hallowed turf of the terrestrial world cup. Tough for dribbling wizards like Ronaldo or Ballack: there's no atmosphere on the moon, and they couldn't rely on their swerve. Little artistry with lunar football and a very different aesthetics.

But there's one great thing about football on the moon: There's no air, which means there's no medium to carry sound. So no one will hear the ref's whistle. For once: No wrong off-side whistles, no irritating interruptions of the lunar match while the thrill of the game is at it's climax – all this soon to come, up on the moon.

Author: Dirk H.Lorenzen (ara)

Editor: Neil King