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Impact of Moon on Earth

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: Evolution of the Solar System and Earth

 

Context: India successfully sent its Chandrayaan 3 mission to the moon.

Formation of Earth and Moon:

The formation of the Earth and Moon is believed to have occurred around 4.5 billion years ago. The process can be summarized as follows:

  • Accretion: Small particles in the early solar system collided and stuck together, forming larger objects called planetesimals and eventually protoplanets.
  • Giant Impact: A Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia collided with the young Earth, causing a massive impact that ejected debris into space.
  • Formation of the Moon: The debris from the impact began to orbit the Earth and eventually came together to create the Moon.
  • Differentiation: Both the Earth and Moon underwent differentiation, where materials separated based on density. Heavier elements sank towards the core, while lighter elements rose to the surface, forming distinct layers.
  • Lunar Evolution: The Moon cooled and solidified over time. It experienced volcanic activity and large impact events, leading to the formation of craters, basins, and other geological features like lunar maria.

 

The moon has had a profound impact on the evolution of life on Earth:

  • Water on Earth: The planet that collided with Earth, ‘Theia’ came from the outer solar system and delivered large quantities of water to Earth.
  • Impact on Tectonic Plates: The moon’s pull of gravity might have set our tectonic plates.
  • Impact of moon’s gravitational pull: Moon’s gravitational pull helps transport heat away from the equator and towards the poles, fundamentally shaping the earth’s climate.
  • Impact on Earth’s rotation: Moon also stabilises the Earth’s rotation on its axis by slowing Earth’s rotation on its axis.
    • The Moon’s presence helps stabilize Earth’s axial tilt and its climate. This stability has allowed for the development of seasons, which have had a significant impact on the distribution of water and the evolution of life.
  • Impact on Earth: The moon’s presence stabilizes Earth’s climate, transports heat and helps regulate the Earth’s rotation on its axis.
  • Impact of Tides: The regular movement of water that exposes the land at the edge of the ocean, could have encouraged life to adapt and move from the oceans to land.
  • Impact on biological cycle: Lunar cycles affect the reproductive cycles of marine life and other animal behaviours.
    • The laying and hatching of turtles’ eggs depend on the timings of tides
    • Moonlight affects the behaviour of nocturnal animals and triggers species-wide reproduction e.g., Corals.

 

Conclusion:

Moon holds much significance for humankind from geological as well as space exploration points of view. India’s Chandrayaan 3 mission is a step in that direction to better understand the moon’s geology and its potential for humankind.

 

Insta Links:

 

Prelims links

Tides occur in the oceans and seas due to which the following (UPSC 2015)

  1. The gravitational force of the Sun
  2. The gravitational force of the Moon
  3. The centrifugal force of the Earth

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer: C