Why Is The Moon Moving Away From The Earth?

Why Is The Moon Moving Away From The Earth?

Every year our natural satellite moves 3.78 centimeters away from planet Earth.

The fact that the Moon is moving away from the Earth is not something new. It has been doing it for thousands of years. In fact, today the satellite is 18 times further away than when it was formed, 4.5 billion years ago.

As researcher Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock, from the Department of Science and Technology at University College London, explained to the BBC, the Moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of 3.78 centimeters per year.

A process that NASA follows in detail thanks to advances made in the lunar landings of the Apollo program, which took place between 1969 and 1972. In three of the missions, the astronauts left retroreflective units on the satellite full of small mirrors that allow the launch of rays laser beams at them, an exact record of how far away the Moon is can be kept.


Why Does This Happen?

The separation between the Earth and the Moon is due to the friction between the surface of the planet and the huge body of water above it, causing the Earth to rotate a little more slowly on its axis over time. As both bodies are linked by a kind of gravitational embrace, as the movement of the Earth slows down, the movement of the Moon speeds up, which pushes it outwards.

Among the effects that the fact that the Moon moves further and further away from our planet can bring, for example, longer days as the Earth rotates more slowly. On the other hand, the winters will be much colder and the summers much warmer.

Also, if the Moon's pull of gravity becomes weaker, the tides will no longer be as marked. Although these changes will be too subtle to notice.

According to the BBC, the Moon will never escape from the Earth. Even if the Earth were to continue to slow down, it would rotate at the same speed that it orbits the Moon. At that time, they will reach an equilibrium and the Moon would stop moving away.


The Moon Moves Away

Although it may seem like the beginning of a science fiction movie, the Moon is progressively moving away from Earth, as mentioned before. After the collision that took place millions of years ago between our planet and "Tea", this is the hypothesis most supported by scientists, the union that has lasted for centuries seems to be moving away from each other progressively.

This separation has already caused the days to get longer and the years to have a little less time due to the slow but constant separation between the stars. Thus, according to experts, there is no going back and the Moon has decided to gradually abandon the relationship until the paths separate.

Although the Moon is four times smaller than the Earth, its importance is vital and it has been studied for centuries by humans. The ancient Greeks already tried to decipher thousands of enigmas that the satellite hid and some of the primitive societies already based their crops on the position of the satellite.

When the collision that caused the satellite and the current shape of our planet occurred, the Moon was about 16 times closer to Earth than it is today. Once cooled by outer space, the distance increased thousands of kilometers, something that, to a lesser extent, it continues to do today.

This distance has not been overlooked by the scientific community and for more than 50 years research has been carried out on why the Moon moves away and how much each year. Thus, experts have been able to determine that every 365 days, a year on Earth, the satellite moves 3.78 centimeters away from the planet, a fact that may seem small but that will mean, over the centuries, the end of the relationship of close form.

At this point, it should be noted that this distancing is due to the fact that the Moon is being displaced from our planet due to the drag caused by the gravitational force of both bodies. The tides generated by the satellite consume a very large amount of frictional energy that causes the decrease in the Earth's rotation, but at the same time pushes the Moon to the opposite side, making it go backward.

Thus, this drag means that the Moon moves away from the Earth and its orbit becomes larger, a fact that causes the separation of those almost 4 centimeters a year. Although it is not completely round but rather elliptical, the average Moon is about 385,000 km from us, a considerable distance.


What Will Happen When They Separate?

Like most concepts in the science of this size, the date is a complete unknown, although the most likely according to expert calculations is that the Moon will stop separating in about 50,000 years. This will cause great changes on Earth due to the power that the moon exerts and will alter the years.

Thus, the Moon from that moment will take about 47 days to go around our planet, 20 more than now, a fact that will mean that the satellite is always in the same place in the sky due to the interlocking of tides.

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