What would happen if the Moon fell out of its orbit around Earth? (Intermediate)

What would happen if the moon fell out of orbit with Earth completely. Specifically, how would that affect climate, geology, etc.?

Before I answer your question, you should understand that this will probably never happen. Only if a large object like Mars comes close to the Earth-Moon system is there any chance of an event like this happening.

If the Moon did escape from Earth, the main effect would be the lack of tides on Earth. Tides are caused by the differential gravitational force on the equatorial regions: i.e. the region closer to the Moon experiences more gravitational force than the region on Earth away from the Moon. This results in the formation of high and low tides on different regions of the Earth.

Other than tidal forces, there is no other geological or climatic influence of the Moon on Earth. There are issues like no more Moon to light up the night sky, no more solar eclipses, etc. but there will be no change in the geology or climate on Earth.

This page was last updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep built a new receiver for the Arecibo radio telescope that works between 6 and 8 GHz. He studies 6.7 GHz methanol masers in our Galaxy. These masers occur at sites where massive stars are being born. He got his Ph.D from Cornell in January 2007 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Insitute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. After that, he worked at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii as the Submillimeter Postdoctoral Fellow. Jagadheep is currently at the Indian Institute of Space Scence and Technology.

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