Change of orbit of the Moon and collision with the Earth: is it possible?

The moon, Earth’s longtime companion, has so far remained the same. For billions of years, we have seen it revolving around our planet in the same way. In science fiction films, we can see situations where scientists save the Earth from the moon fall Above. But is it really possible that the moon is ejected from its orbit and collides with our planet?

One could imagine a mysterious force that would propel the moon above our heads like in the movie Moonfall. Natural or artificial stars, meteorites or comets, one wonders what kind of object could make the moon move. Surrounded by the exosphere, a very thin layer of gas, the moon is a solid body that has emerged from rock debris.

Scientists are constantly carrying out observations to detect threats for the Earth, the moon and other neighbors of the cosmos. These researchers have also studied the situation that can make possible the collision between moon and earth.

Possibilities of an asteroid impact with the Moon

The natural satellite formed about 4.5 billion years old. The phenomenon at the origin of its formation is the subject of several discussions. Located 385,000 kilometers from Earth, the moon is a quarter of the size of the Earth. Craters of various sizes on the surface of the moon are from past impacts. At the time, there were still several pieces of debris in the solar system. Currently, the impacts have regressed, because there are fewer bodies likely to have to interfere with on the Moon or the Earth.

The researchers of CNEOS (Center for Near-Earth Object Studies) identify the near-earth objects in space which could represent threats. They track objects approaching Earth within a radius of 194.5 million kilometers. A NEO must be at least 140 meters in diameter to be considered a threat. The asteroid collisions with Earth are more likely than those with the Moon because our planet has stronger gravity.

An asteroid must be larger than the Moon to affect orbit. Fortunately, the largest of all known asteroids is around 70 times less massive than the moon. In addition, it is 180 million kilometers from Earth.

“The moon is big, so it would have to be a huge object hitting it at high speed. It would have to be struck with an object several hundred and hundred kilometers in diameter. »

Paul Chodas, Director of CNEOS at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Could an artificial object dislodge the Moon?

One Falcon 9 booster stage, launched in 2015, is currently crashing into the Moon. It is expected to hit the surface on March 4, 2022. This fragment weighs approximately 4.4 Tons, and is traveling at a speed of 9288 km/h when hitting the Moon. This crash would not influence the orbit of the Moon.

This would create one more crater on the surface, about 20 meters in diameter, according to the New York Times. The trajectory of this object is closely monitored by the CNEOS.

“We are doing some calculations specifically for this object. This one is of interest to the LRO spacecraft [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter de la NASA], which is orbiting the Moon and could take a picture of the crater, so they would like to know where it will hit. So they would like to know where it will hit. And we can make predictions for where to look and where the crater will be in a month. »

Paul Chodas, Director of CNEOS


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