Q:

Why is the moon important?

A:

Quick Answer

Most people know that the moon's gravitational influence has an effect on the tides on Earth, but some scientists also believe that the presence of the moon played an important role in making Earth habitable to begin with. The interplay between the Earth and the moon mirrors events that occurred throughout the early solar system, as a Mars-sized object may have hit the Earth, sending some of the mantle into orbit that soon cooled into the moon. Over time, the relationship between the Earth and the moon may well have assisted the advent of life.

Continue Reading
Why is the moon important?
Credit: Evgeny Kuklev Vetta Getty Images

Full Answer

The flow of the oceanic tides facilitates the movement of heat from the equator north and south to the poles. Without those tides, it is possible that climate changes ranging from ice ages to glacial periods would not be as extreme. As they happened, the glacial phases may have helped speed up migrations of plant and animal species that caused life to spread.

Tidal heat transfer may also have made climatic fluctuations less extreme, so research is still underway to determine what actually took place over lengthy periods of time. If life came into being around hydrothermal vents deep in the oceans, then the role of the tides was likely minor, but if life began in the tidal waters, then the moon's role would have been much more significant.

Learn more about Our Moon

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why do we always see the same face of the moon?

    A:

    The moon is tidally locked with Earth, which has the effect of synchronizing its rotation period with the period of its orbit. Completing one "day" per orbit of the Earth, the moon has shown the same face to the Earth for billions of years.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How did NASA know it was safe to land on the moon?

    A:

    There was a lot of build-up to the first manned moon landing, including several unmanned missions to the moon flown by the space programs from both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Based on the data gathered during these missions, NASA scientists were able to develop procedures and equipment that would be most likely to lead to a safe manned mission to the moon.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How was the moon formed?

    A:

    The most popular theory regarding lunar formation is that a Mars-sized planetoid slammed into the Earth and flung molten debris into orbit around 40 million years after the solar system was created, according to scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This is called the giant impact theory.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How big is the moon?

    A:

    Earth's sole natural satellite, the moon, has a circumference of 6,783.5 miles around its equator. Its surface area is 14,647,439.75 square miles, which is approximately 0.07 times that of the Earth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore