Sunday, 12 October 2008

Little known facts about Moon


1. The Moon was created when a rock the size of Mars slammed into Earth, shortly after the solar system began forming about 4.5 billion years ago.

2. More than 400 trees on Earth came from the Moon. Well, okay: They came from lunar orbit. Okay, the truth: In 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa took a bunch of seeds with him and, while Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were busy sauntering around on the surface, Roosa guarded his seeds. Later, the seeds were germinated on Earth, planted at various sites around the country, and came to be called the Moon trees. Most of them are doing just fine.

3. The Moon's heavily cratered surface is the result of intense pummeling by space rocks between 4.1 billion and 3.8 billion years ago. The scars of this war, seen as
craters, have not eroded much for two main reasons: The Moon is not geologically very active, so earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain-building don't destroy the landscape as they do on Earth; and with virtually no atmosphere there is no wind or rain, so very little surface erosion occurs.

4. The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. Right? Maybe not. In 1999, scientists found that a 3-mile- (5-kilometre-) wide asteroid may be caught in Earth's gravitational grip, thereby becoming a satellite of our planet. Cruithine, as it is called, takes 770 years to complete a horseshoe-shaped orbit around Earth, the scientists say, and it will remain in a suspended state around Earth for at least 5,000 years.

5. The Moon is not round (or spherical). Instead, it's shaped like an egg. If you go outside and look up, one of the small ends is pointing right at you. And the Moon's
centre of mass is not at the geometric centre of the satellite; it's about 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) off-centre.

6. Apollo astronauts used seismometers during their visits to the Moon and discovered that the gray orb isn't a totally dead place, geologically speaking. Small
moonquakes, originating several miles (kilometres) below the surface, are thought to be caused by the gravitational pull of Earth. Sometimes tiny fractures appear at the surface, and gas escapes. Scientists say they think the Moon probably has a core that is hot and perhaps partially molten, as is Earth's core. But data from NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft showed in 1999 that the Moon's core is small -- probably between 2 percent and 4 percent of its mass. This is tiny compared with Earth, in which the iron core makes up about 30 percent of the planet's mass.

7. Our Moon is bigger than Pluto. And at roughly one-fourth the diameter of Earth, some scientists think the Moon is more like a planet. They refer to the Earth-Moon system as a "double planet." Pluto and its moon Charon are also called a double-planet system by some.

8. As you read this, the Moon is moving away from us. Each year, the Moon steals some of Earth's rotational energy, and uses it to propel itself about 3.8
centimetres higher in its orbit. Researchers say that when it formed, the Moon was about 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometres) from Earth. It's now more than 280,000 miles, or 450,000 kilometres away.

(Courtesy: Space.com)

1 comment:

Sastry said...

Moon is as enigmatic as before. The more we discover it the more is left to be discovered.

P Rama Sastry
Visakhapatnam

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