Q:

Why is the moon important?

A:

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.

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.

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Related Questions

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    Does the moon spin?

    A:

    The moon does rotate, and it orbits around the Earth. It completes one full orbit around the Earth every 27.322 days. The moon also takes approximately 27 days to rotate around its own axis.

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    What is the purpose of the moon?

    A:

    The gravitational pull of the moon controls the rise and fall of tides on Earth and slows the planet's rotation, while the phases of the moon serve as calendar markers for human beings. High tides occur on the portion of the Earth closest to the moon and the portion farthest away. Low tides occur between those two points.

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    Why does the moon wax and wane?

    A:

    The moon appears to wax and wane through different phases due to how much of its illuminated surface is visible from Earth. At any given time, half the moon is illuminated by the sun's light. Depending on where the moon is in relation to the Earth, the amount of illuminated surface changes. The ratio of illuminated surface to shadowed surface creates the phases.

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    How much would you weigh on the moon?

    A:

    According to the Argonne National Laboratory, a human being weighs approximately one-sixth as much on the moon as he does on Earth. If an individual weighs 180 pounds on Earth, that weight is converted to 30 pounds on the moon.

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