Congresswoman Makes Strange Claims About the Earth's Moon

Lunar Blunder

In an embarrassing slipup, representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) told a high school audience on Monday that the Moon was a "planet" that's — yes, really — "made up of mostly gases."

In reality, of course, our closest celestial neighbor is largely composed of solid rock.

In a video of the event, which took place before the total eclipse that plunged much of Texas into darkness and still live on her X-formerly-Twitter page at press time, Jackson Lee seemed hazy on almost everything related to our planet's natural satellite.

"You’ve heard the word 'full Moon,'" she said. "Sometimes you need to take the opportunity just to come out and see a full moon is that complete rounded circle, which is made up mostly of gases."

"And that’s why the question is why or how could we as humans live on the Moon?" Jackson Lee added. "Are the gases such that we could do that?"

Swing and a Miss

It's a real foot-in-mouth moment for the 74-year-old Democrat, who once led the House Science Committee's space subcommittee.

In a statement to the New York Post, Jackson Lee tried to save face.

"Obviously I misspoke and meant to say the Sun, but as usual, Republicans are focused on stupid things instead of stuff that really matters," she told the publication. "What can I say, though, foolish thinkers lust for stupidity!"

But even if we were to take her at her word, her comments still don't add up.

One more charitable interpretation of her comments would be that Jackson Lee was referring to the Sun's radiation blasting down on the atmosphere-less Moon, which makes spending prolonged periods of time on its surface dangerous for astronauts.

But even her account of how a solar eclipse works simply doesn't stand up to virtually any amount of scrutiny.

"What you will see today, will be the closest distance that the moon has ever been in the last 20 years, which means that’s why they will shut the light down, because they will be close to the Earth, which is an amazing experience," she said.

Jackson Lee already has a reputation for making eyebrow-raising statements about space. As Sky News reports, in 1997 she demanded that NASA show her the flag its astronauts had planted on Mars — in spite of the fact that none have ever visited.

More on the eclipse: The Solar Eclipse Looks Absolutely Wild From Space