For almost 4.5 billion years of the existence of the solar system, the planet Earth did not remain alone, revolving around the sun. Our huge lunar companion is much larger and more massive than any other moons in comparison with the planets around which they revolve.
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In its full phase, the Moon shines brightly and throughout its history has been repeatedly associated with various phenomena such as madness (or sleepwalking), animal behavior (howling at the moon), farming (full moon before the autumnal equinox), and even women’s monthly cycles.
While these assumptions are not scientifically supported, the Moon does have an impact on planet Earth. Its destruction will be a catastrophe that will change our world forever.
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When the moon is destroyed, its debris will fly to Earth
However, this may not lead to the destruction of life.
Imagine that there is a deadly weapon that can gravitationally displace the moon and tear it apart. This will require a lump of antimatter the size of an average asteroid (about a kilometer in diameter) and the debris will fly in all directions. If the explosion is weak, one or more new moons may form from the fragments, but with a strong explosion, nothing will remain. If it is of the correct magnitude, it will create a ring system around the Earth.
Over time, the lunar fragments will go out of orbit thanks to the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to a series of consequences. However, these consequences will not be as devastating as the comets or asteroids that we fear so much. Although parts of the Moon will continue to be massive, denser, and potentially larger than the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs, they will have significantly less energy.
Asteroids or comets falling on the Earth move at a speed of 20, 50 or more than 100 km / s, while lunar debris will move at a speed of only 8 km per second and they will only tangentially enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The impact will have a destructive force, but in a collision, this force will be only 1% of the total energy compared to an asteroid of similar size. If the fragments are small enough, humanity has every chance of surviving.
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The sky will get brighter at night
With the disappearance of the Moon and its fragments, the Earth’s sky will lose its second brightest object. While the Sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full phase Moon, the latter is 14,000 times brighter than the next brightest object, the planet Venus. On the Bortle dark sky scale, the full moon can take you from number 1 – the purest and most natural dark sky possible – right up to 7 or 8, thus eclipsing even the brightest stars. Without the Moon, there will be no natural interference obscuring the clear, dark sky on any day of the year.
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There will be no more eclipses
After the disappearance of the Moon, there will be no eclipses – neither solar (partial, total or annular), nor lunar. In order for an eclipse to occur, three objects (the sun, the planet and its moon) are required, which are lined up in a specific order. When the moon passes between the planet and the Sun, a shadow falls on the surface of the planet (total eclipse), the moon can cross the surface of the Sun (annular eclipse) or cover only part of the celestial body (partial eclipse). However, if there is no moon, none of these eclipses is possible.
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The length of the day will remain constant
Few people think about it, but the gravity of the Moon causes a slight frictional “drag”, due to which the speed of rotation of the Earth gradually decreases. For several centuries, we can lose a second or two, but over time they accumulate. For example, in the days of the dinosaurs, the length of the day was only 22 hours, and several billion years ago – less than 10 hours. In 4 billion years, we will no longer need to add days to the calendar, as the Earth’s rotation rate will slow down and the length of the day will increase. But without the Moon, the process will stop – every day will count for 24 hours until the Sun goes out.
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The tides will be slight
The high and low tides present an interesting variety for those of us who live close to the coast, especially in a cove, narrow bay, strait, or other places of accumulation of water. The ebb and flow is mainly due to the influence of the moon, while the sun has only a minor effect. During the full moon and new moon, when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align in a particular line, sigisial tides occur — the largest difference possible between high and low tide. When they are at right angles to each other during the crescent phase, the water level is at its lowest. The Sigisian tide is twice its lowest level, but if there is no Moon, the tides will be very small – only a quarter of the current maximum level.
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Earth’s axial tilt will be unstable
The Earth rotates on its axis with an inclination of 23.4 degrees in relation to our orbital plane around the Sun (tilt of the axis of rotation). You might think that the Moon has nothing to do with this phenomenon, but over tens of thousands of years, this tilt has changed – from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees. The moon serves as a stabilizing force, while planets without large moons, such as Mars, experience tilts tens of times greater over time. According to some estimates, without the Moon, the Earth’s tilt could reach 45 degrees. And then it will not always be cold at the poles, and at the equator it will not always be warm. Without the stabilizing influence of the Moon, ice ages will occur on Earth every few thousand years.
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We will no longer have a convenient launch pad for flights to other planets.
As far as we know, humanity is the only species that voluntarily stepped onto the surface of another world. This is partly due to the relatively close location of the moon to the earth. The distance between our planet and the satellite is only 380 thousand km. The rocket can cover this path in about three days, and the exchange of a signal with the Moon takes only 2.5 seconds. The flight to the next closest objects – Mars and Venus – will take several months. In total, the round trip will take about a year.
The flight to the moon is the easiest “training trip” that we could ask the Universe for if our goal were to explore the solar system. Perhaps, soon we will again use this opportunity, as well as all that it gives the Earth.