Why does the Moon move a little further from the Earth every day?

NASA captures high-resolution 4K photos and videos of the moon

Yesterday the moon was closer to us than it is today. Tomorrow will be a little further than what we see today. Every day our natural satellite moves away from us.

The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth and orbits the planet at an average distance of about 385,000 km. With a diameter of just under 3,500 kilometers, the surface of the rocky body, dotted with craters, is one of the most recognizable objects in the sky.

The moon is gradually moving away from our world. Specifically, the distance fluctuates from 4 to 30 cm per year. About 4.5 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars collided with Earth, sending fragments of the Earth’s crust into space. They fell into the orbit of the planet and eventually merged, forming our moon. This newborn moon, a ball of molten rock covered in an ocean of magma, was about 16 times closer to Earth than it is today. As the moon cooled, thousands of miles into the distance receded.

The Moon will never escape the Earth (Reuters / Borja Suarez)

s Thanks to NASA’s Apollo program moon landings that took place between 1969 and 1972, we can measure this distance with amazing accuracy., because on three of the missions, the astronauts left reflecting units of the satellite filled with tiny mirrors. Since then, astronomers have fired lasers at them to track their exact distance.

We send out about 100 quadrillion photons with each laser pulse. If we’re lucky, for every pulse we send out, a photon goes back (to Earth).” Russett Macmillan, a scientist at the Apache Point (APO) Astronomical Observatory located in Sierra del Sacramento, in New Mexico, United States. But Although at first glance the photon appears a little, it is enough to measure the distance between the Moon and the Earth down to the last millimeter.

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Today, one orbit of our planet Moon takes 27.3 Earth days, which is the same amount of time it takes a satellite to rotate once on its axis. As a result, half of the moon’s surface always faces the Earth. The other half (erroneously known as the dark side of the moon, despite receiving the same amount of sunlight as the more famous side) was finally first seen in 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 probe released a grainy set of images. This “tidal-locked” orbit is the result of The Earth and Moon are pulling on each other, slowing each other’s rotation. The rotation of the Earth was similarly affected by the braking effect of the Moon’s gravity, Adding about 2 milliseconds To this day every century.

Sea level rise due to climate change, combined with the effect of the lunar decadal cycle, will significantly increase the amount of flooding by 2030 (NASA)
Sea level rise due to climate change, combined with the effect of the lunar decadal cycle, will significantly increase the amount of flooding by 2030 (NASA)

This move away because the friction between the Earth’s surface and the massive water body above it causes the Earth to rotate slightly more slowly on its axis over time.. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is Newton’s third law. The Earth and the Moon are connected by a kind of gravitational embrace. So whenever the movement of the earth slows down, the movement of the moon accelerates. And when something is accelerated into orbit, that acceleration pushes it outward.

The fact that the moon is moving away affects our planet in many ways. For starters, as the Earth rotates more slowly, the days get longer. And they’re actually getting longer, at a rate of milliseconds every hundred years. On the other hand, winters will be cooler and summers warmer. This can have a devastating effect on Earth as animals tend to adapt to one type of climate, but not to extremes. And if the moon’s gravitational force becomes weaker, the tides on Earth will not be the same. However, even without the Moon, tides were present, albeit slight, due to the influence of the Sun.

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However, none of these consequences should concern us: the changes are so subtle that we don’t even see them. The moon will never escape the earth. Even if the Earth continues to slow down, it will rotate at the same speed as it orbits the Moon. At that time, the Earth and the Moon will reach equilibrium and the Moon will stop moving away. But long before that happens, the Sun will expand to become a red giant, swallowing Earth and the satellite in the process. However, don’t worry, we’re still about five billion years away from that possibility.

Scientists are reconstructing how the moon was formed

recorded oscillations

The distance between the Earth and the Moon is directly related to the frequency of one of Milankovitch’s cycles.: climatic precursor cycle. This cycle arises from the anticipatory movement (oscillation) or change in the direction of the Earth’s rotation axis over time. This means that if we can first find Milankovitch cycles in ancient terrestrial sediments and then find the Earth’s wobble signal and determine the time period for it, we can estimate the distance between Earth and the Moon at the time these sediments were deposited.

Scientists from University Utrecht and the University of GenevaA combination of techniques have been used to try to gain insight into the distant pasts of both objects. Our previous investigation showed That Milankovitch cycles can be preserved in the formation of ancient iron-bands in South Africa“, which supports Trendall’s theory. In 1972, Australian geologist AF Trendall posed the question Out of the various scales of recurring periodic patterns visible in these ancient rock layers. He noted that the patterns may be related to past climate changes caused by the so-called “Milankovitch cycles.”

NASA recently captured 4K high-resolution images and videos of the moon
NASA recently captured 4K high-resolution images and videos of the moon

Immediately, Milankovitch’s dominant cycles change every 400,000 years, 100,000 years, 41,000 years, and 21,000 years. These differences exert strong control over our climate for long periods of time. The main examples of the influence of the Milankovitch climatic effect in the past are the occurrence of periods Perishing also warm As well as regional climatic conditions Wetter or drier. We found that the Moon was close to Earth by about 60,000 km at that time (that distance is 1.5 times the Earth’s circumference). This will make the length of the day much shorter than it is now, about 17 hours instead of the current 24 hours.

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NASA asserts that sea level rise due to climate change, combined with the effect of the lunar decadal cycle, will lead to Significant increase in the amount of floods caused by high tides during the 1930s. High tide floods widely affect life in coastal communities. It affects their ability to get to work, and makes it difficult for companies to stay open, Benjamin Hamlington, science team leader at NASA’s Ice and Sea Level Group, told the BBC.

Upcoming lunar missions will conduct more scientific experiments
Upcoming lunar missions will conduct more scientific experiments

We may see four times the amount of flooding from one decade to the next. The lunar nodal cycle affects all places on Earth and sea levels are rising everywhere. So we will see these rapid increases in high tide floods around the world.” With increased flooding due to the wobbly moon and rising sea levels, Freshwater wetlands may also experience profound changes.

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Lovell Loxley

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