How Did The Earth's Moon Form And How Has It Evolved Over Time?

1792 words - 7 pages

The earth's moon has been a subject of intrigue to scientists for centuries. The moon is a 4.53 billion year old, rocky object covered by craters, mountains, plains and faults. It is 384,000 kilometers away from the earth and revolves around it approximately every 29 days. (Hartmann & Philips, 1986) It has little more than half the density of the earth and no atmosphere, hydrosphere, or magnetosphere. The moon is proportionally quite large when compared to the size of other moons in our solar system. Its chemical composition is largely made up of semisolid and solid rocks. While it does have a small amount of metallic objects, mainly iron, it does not have the same amount proportionally as the earth. The earth and moon's similar physical composition has been very influential to discovering how the moon became a satellite of the earth. (Chaisson & McMillan, 2004) While there are conflicting theories on how the moon became a part of the earth's system most scientists agree that it was within the first 100 million years of the solar system's creation. (Hartmann & Philips, 1986)The theories most commonly discussed for the creation of the moon are co-accretion, fission, capture and the cratering theory. Co-accretion is the theory that the earth and moon grew together in a satellite system. The capture theory predicted that the moon was a foreign rocky object that was seized by the earth's gravitational pull into its orbit. Fission is the theory that the moon is made up of particles of the outer layer of Earth. (Mackenzie, 1999) All three theories have recently been disproved by their inability to account for certain physical qualities of the moon.The theory that many scientists acknowledge currently is the cratering theory. (Roach, 2003) This theory states that an object about the size of Mars collided with Earth early on in its creation, and that the resulting debris coalesced to form the moon. Recent studies by geochemist Carsten Munker say that up to 65% of the moon's material is from the impact with earth. This number was found by analyzing the proportions of niobium to tantalum on the earth's surface and the moon's surface. (Roach, 2003) The theory, which was proposed in 1975 by scientists Don Davis and William Hartmann, is still not completely accepted, however, recent simulations have increased scientists' acceptance of it. (Mackenzie, 1999)The moon is made up mostly of rocky materials with a small iron core. It has a relatively thick crust with a width of approximately 120 kilometers. Its rocky lithosphere, or solid crust and upper mantle, and asthenosphere, an underlying layer of deformable rock, are the moon's largest physical attribute. Finally, the moon's core is 300 kilometers across and may be partly molten. The moon's deficiency in iron accounts for its low density as compared to the earth. (Chaisson & McMillan, 2004) The fact that the moon has the same elements as the earth but a much larger quantity of rock and a much...

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