I wonder what would happen if the moon orbited much closer to the Earth.

To start off, our Moon is currently 384 400 km away and takes 27 days to full orbit around the Earth. It also moves away from our planet roughly 1.1 inches every year extending our days by 15 millionths of a second per year. So even if for now, our Moon is moving farther away, what would happen if it was moving closer? Would our world change? Would life as we know it even be able to survive?

Image result for what if the moon was closer to the earth

The very first aspect that would change with the Moon moving closer to the Earth would be the time it takes to orbit the Earth. Currently, our Moon passes once a day, however, if it moved closer to the Earth, this would change. The moon would be able to make a complete orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes and would cross the sky in just 5 minutes. This would alter our days but also all of our bodily functions as well.

Our oceans would also become more and more dangerous. As we all know, the Moon has great control over our tides as well as the Sun, however, if the Moon came closer to Earth, natural disasters would worsen. Huge tidal waves would sweep the Earth every 90 minutes wiping out everything in its way. Shorelines and cities by the water would be flooded and become inhabitable. The water would eventually retreat, leaving destroyed cities and debris of life that used to exist. The planet would experience apocalyptic earthquakes and changes to the Earth’s crust due to the moon’s gravitational pull. The temperature underneath the surface would increase and lava would start pouring from streets and volcano eruptions would become more frequent. This might also cause the ocean’s temperature to rise and in some places even boil.

Image result for london underwater

The force of gravity would create an imbalance in the Earth’s position. Since it would be closer, one side of the Earth will always feel a stronger pull to the Moon than the other side. In simple terms, this would be enough to slightly stretch the Earth’s shape making it no longer a perfect sphere.

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Speaking realistically, the Moon would never be able to come any closer to the Earth than 18 470 km because of something called the Roche Limit. The Roche limit is the point where the force holding the Moon together is weaker than the tidal forces. This would ultimately shatter the Moon into millions of pieces and would no longer exist. So instead of our planet having its own moon, Earth would become the second planet in our Solar System to have its own ring. The only difference between Earth and Saturn’s rings would be that our ring would not last for very long. The effects of living without a moon would, of course, be even more devastating. Things such as our Earth’s climate, day length and tides would go haywire.

Image result for roche limit

In conclusion, I learned that if the Moon ever moved a drastic amount closer to the Earth, aspects such as natural disasters, day length and the gravitational pull will be greatly affected. However, I still wonder so many questions. How would we ever prevent this from happening? Would humans be able to adapt to the changes? Or what could trigger this to happen?

Here is a video further explaining the topic:

As we can see, our Earth’s current position and distance from the Moon is perfect and essential for life. Even the smallest differences could create imbalances and even greater ones would be enough to wipe out our planet. After all this research, I found more possibilities of what might happen. All of this is hypothetical and hopefully, we never need to prove any of these theories!

Reflection:

1) What questions did you need to research in order to research your topic?

When I first started researching my topic I researched the basics about both the Moon and the Earth. I researched things like how far away they are, how big they are and their influences on each other to understand more about how they work and help one another. After I had enough information on the basics I started reading articles about the effects of the Moon orbiting closer to the Earth. I was really interested in how life would be affected but space as well. I started with my first question “How would humans be affected?” then moved on to “How would our Earth be affected” and then finally? “How would the relationship between the Moon and the Earth be affected?”

2) What new or familiar digital tools did you try to use as you worked through this project?

When I worked on this project I used familiar tools such as search engines and Gale Learning. I also used easybib which is a tool that helps you check your sources. It helps you cite them but also shows you important information like the authour and publisher. I used Google for the majority of my research and YouTube to find a good video talking about my topic. I found that all of these sources helped me complete my project to the best of my ability and provided me with credible information.

3) What was the process that you used to investigate the topic?

My initial brainstorming process was quite long. Space was always a topic that intrigued me very much and I wasn’t sure on what aspect I wanted to focus on. In order to pick my topic, I had to do a little bit of basic research on many topics such as the Moon, Nebulas, Black Holes and many more to get a good idea on what I wanted to focus on. I started with my original question which was “I wonder what life for humans would be like if Planet Earth did not exist” which was based on how humans would adapt to such a change to researching my final question “I wonder what would happen if the Moon orbited much closer to Earth?” My research process was very interesting as well because that was the part where I was really fascinated about all of the possible answers to my question. My favourite part of the whole process was putting it all together of course because this was when I got the chance to show everything that I learned. I was very passionate about my topic which made it a lot easier t research and to stay engaged during the whole project.

4) How did you verify and cite the information you found? 

I used an online tool called easybib which verifies your sources for you. It creates your citations and shows all the aspects required for a credible source such as an authour, publisher, the date it was published and what company published it. I also personally checked my sources before even adding them into easybib and before reading them. I always check for an author and make sure that the website is something reliable and not a place where anyone can post their opinion, but the information is actually backed up by scientific research.

5) How did the process of completing this challenge go? What could you have done better?

In general, I think the process of this challenge went very smoothly. I didn’t face too many challenges along the way and if I did I always found a way t troubleshoot them. The only thing I wish was different was the amount of time we got to complete the assignment because I would have really loved to have more time and explore my topic. I found that at the end of the project a lot of my questions were answered but just as many new ones were created. One thing that I think I could have done better is maybe do more research on the relationship between other planets and their moons. I feel like so many planets in our Solar System are full of secrets too and I would have really like to have widened my research. I think I could have also visited some more sources from the Gale databases. Since they are written from a higher perspective I think that the information collected from them would be extremely beneficial.

My research-4 reliable sources:

Source #1
Title of source: What would happen if the Moon moved closer to Earth?

 

Author:

Gemma Lavender

Date of publication: June 10, 2018 Date accessed (by you): May 25, 2019
URL: https://www.space1answers.com/solar-system/what-would-happen-if-the-moon-moved-closer-to-the-earth/
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The Earth’s spin on its axis keeps water more or less balanced on all sides of the planet through what is known as a centrifugal force. The gravitational force of the Moon disrupts this balance, pulling a tidal bulge of water with it as it orbits our planet and as the Earth rotates, it too causes a tidal bulge on the opposite side. It is these bulges that are defined as high tide whereas other areas are low tide.

Now, moving the Moon closer to the Earth will increase the gravitational exertion of the satellite onto our planet. If the satellite were slightly closer, the tidal bulge would grow. Low tides would be lower and high tides would be higher and any low lying coastline would be flooded. If the Moon got much closer, say 20 times closer, it would exert a gravitational force 400 times greater than what we are used to. A mighty tidal bulge would be created, hitting the land and causing great flooding, with cities such as London and New York disappearing under water. When the Moon moves on however, the flooding subsides and the water will retreat.

 

Make “raw” notes (this is not a summary):

 

  • The moon disrupts the balance of gravity and water, therefore it would create a great tidal wave sweeping around the world as it rotates.

 

  • It would increase the gravitational exertion therefore making low ties even lower and high tides even higher.

 

  • All of our coastlines would be flooded and inhabitable

 

  • After it floods the coast lines, the water would retreat wiping all life away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source #2
Title of source: What if…the Moon orbited at the same height as the ISS?

 

Author:

Phil Plait

Date of publication:

May 19, 2014

Date accessed (by you): May 25, 2019
URL:https://slate.com/technology/2014/05/close-encounter-what-if-the-moon-orbited-much-closer-to-earth.html
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The Moon would orbit the Earth in about 90 minutes or so. It would cross the sky in very roughly five minutes.

 

In the video, the Moon is 420 kilometers (260 miles) from the Earth—in this case, that’s measured from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon. The center of the Moon would then be an extra 1,738 kilometers away (the distance of the Moon’s surface to its center, in other words its radius). So now the center of the Moon is 2,158 kilometers (1,340 miles) away, which is close.

If you redo the gravity calculation, you’d find the force of gravity from the Moon on you is 1/10th that of Earth! When the Moon passed overhead, you’d weigh 10 percent less. I’ll note this depends on your latitude and other factors, but again I’m trying to keep it simple here. You’ll see in a moment why worrying over details isn’t important.

 

Weighing a little less every time the Moon goes over you might sound like fun, but then you have to remember about tides. The force of gravity gets weaker with distance. For example, right now the far side of the Earth feels less gravity from the Moon than the side facing it. The difference isn’t much, but it’s enough to stretch the Earth a little bit (it’s actually more complicated than that, of course, but for now that’s close enough). That’s what we call the tidal force. Right now, the Moon’s tides on Earth pull water up and down by roughly a meter or two between high and low tide as the Earth rotates under the Moon every day

 

The Earth’s near side is 2,158 kilometers from the Moon’s center, and the far side is nearly 15,000 kilometers away. That’s a huge difference, and the tides felt by the Earth would be amplified enormously—nearly 100,000 times what we experience now! There would be global floods as a tidal wave kilometers high sweeps around the world every 90 minutes (due to the Moon’s closer, faster orbit), scouring clean everything in its path. The Earth itself would also be stretched up and down, so there would be apocalyptic earthquakes, not to mention huge internal heating of the Earth and subsequent volcanism. I’d think that the oceans might even boil away due to the enormous heat released from the Earth’s interior, so at least that spares you the flood … but replaces water with lava.

 

Make “raw” notes (this is not a summary):

  •  Since the moon is a lot closer, it would take a lot less time for it to orbit the Earth. It would orbit every 90 minutes and would cross the sky in about 5 minutes.

 

  • Because the force of gravity would be different, when the moon passed right about you, you would weigh 10 percent less than normal.

 

  • The force of gravity is enough to stretch the Earth a little bit because one side of the Earth is closer to the Moon than the other.

 

  • This means that more gravity is felt on one side than the other.

 

  • This is called the Tidal Force and is how water moves.

 

  • Floods would become a devastating effect and would sweep every 90 minutes.

 

  • The Earth would get more earthquakes because it would be stretched up and down.

 

  • Volcano eruptions become more frequent as well because of the internal heating

 

 

 

Source #3
Title of source: What if the moon was closer to the Earth?

 

Author:

Anna LeMind

Date of publication:

November 8, 2102

Date accessed (by you): May 24, 2019
URL: https://www.learning-mind.com/what-if-the-moon-was-closer-to-the-earth/
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Although it is impossible for the Moon to approach the Earth, if it happened, our satellite would occupy more space in the sky, which would result in more frequent and longer-lasting solar eclipses.

Moreover, if the Moon was even closer and had even stronger gravitational pull, it would cause far more destructive and powerful tidal phenomena. The difference between low tide and high tide would be higher, and large tidal waves, depending on the distance of the Moon, would probably cause devastating floods.

Finally, if the Moon was closer to us, the gravitational pull would not only affect the waters of our planet, but it could also cause severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

 

Make “raw” notes (this is not a summary):

 

  • Our days would change because of the fact that the moon is bigger and would cover a lot of the sunlight.

 

  • We would get more frequent and longer-lasting solar eclipses.

 

  • Natural Disasters would generally be increased and it would be extremely hard to survive on Earth maybe even impossible

 

 

Source #4
Title of source: What if Moon comes closer to Earth?

 

Author:

News Nation Bureau

Date of publication:

August 3, 2018

Date accessed (by you): May 24, 2019
URL:https://www.newsnation.in/science-news/what-if-moon-comes-closer-to-earth-saturn-like-ring-tidal-waves-as-high-as-30-000-feet-article-199801.html
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The Moon’s plan to demolish the Earth by crashing into it would shatter the moment it reaches the Roche limit. The Moon itself would crumble into pieces, never making it to Earth’s surface and that’s going to look very majestic!

But what is Roche limit?

In Celestial mechanics, it is the point at which the gravity holding a satellite together is weaker than the tidal forces trying to pull it apart. In other words, the Moon can only get as close as 18,470 km away from our planet, before BOOM!

The tidal forces would tear it apart. All the footprints and flags that we have left on the Moon, all of its craters and valleys would scatter to form a breath-taking ring of debris above Earth’s equator – 37,000 kilometre in diameter – making Earth the second planet in our solar system, after Saturn, to have this striking ring of beauty. The difference being, our rings would not last long.

Make “raw” notes (this is not a summary):

 

  • The moon would never be able to come closer that 18 470 km from the Earth because of the Roche limit.

 

  • This limit means that the Earth would crumble and create a ring around the Earth if it ever got that close.

 

  • The gravity holding the moon together would be weaker than the tidal forces therefore completely destroying the moon.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Astronomy Wonder Project”

  1. I really liked how much thought you put into your question and how you were able to theorize the impacts that would occur on Earth if the Moon orbited much closer to us!! I found your topic very interesting and it made me curious about the possibilities of humankind surviving and inhabiting a new planet. I also found that your pictures and video made your inquiry question really clear and easy to understand. Good job!

  2. Hi Didi, as always I enjoyed reading your work! Interesting question to explore and I like the way you relate it to tides and natural disasters. The moon sure is important to earth’s systems. I was wondering about the 90 minute orbit, and is this is true for any distance closer to earth or for a specific distance you may have found in your research? Great choice of photos to explain your points.

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