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Moonless Earth

Introduction

Nowadays, much attention is paid to testing various theories of the existence of the Earth. The current work will present a combination of available ideas and notions concerning the existence of the Earth without the Moon. The presented ideas will be based on the giant-impact theory that assumes that the Moon was formed as a result of the Earth’s collapse and the Mars-size object. This assumption will allow tracking the influence of the Moon on the Earth from the very beginning of its existence as well as estimate what might happen in the following two cases: if the Moon never existed and if the Moon disappeared. The development and presentation of the assumption, in particular, the absence of the Moon, contributes to the understanding that this situation would cause tremendous changes in the position, climate, geology, and life on the Earth.

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Earth without the Moon

Present State

According to the giant impact theory, the Moon was formed after the significant collision that occurred under the impact of the Mars-size object (Spradley, 2010). The energy produced by this collision explains the Moon’s lack of volatiles, iron core, and magma ocean (Spradley, 2010). Computer calculations identified that the date of the Moon’s birth was about 4.53 billion years ago (Spradley, 2010). Its formation and existence exert an enormous impact on the Earth.

At the current moment, the Moon and the Earth produce strong gravitation influence on each other. This is reflected in the slowing down of the Earth’s rotation by about 0.002 s/century (Foster, 2016). The Moon’s influence causes the lengthening of the day from 5 hours to 24 hours (Foster, 2016). Additional attention should be paid to the fact that the gravitation attraction between these two astronomical bodies has a stabilizing effect on the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Currently, the planet has a constant tilt at the extent of 23.5° (Foster, 2016). This stability assures a relatively unchangeable climate and the change of seasons. Current climate fluctuations form as deviation “in the eccentricity, obliquity, and precession of the Earth’s axis and orbit” caused by the Moon (Dickinson, 2013). Additionally, the Moon serves as the reflector of the Sun’s light. It heats the Earth at about 0.2 C (Foster, 2016). Furthermore, the Moon acts as a shield against space objects.

Tectonic Changes

The formation of the Moon as a consequence of the collision between the Earth and the Mars-size object caused the removal of about 70 % of the Earth’s silicate crust for the Moon’s formation (Spradley, 2010). This entailed “a large increase in core and mantle heat, and an increase in radioactive isotopes” for holding this heat (Spradley, 2010, p. 271). The thinning of the crust made it more exposed to the influence of heat convection and cracking. The energy of collision in combination with a great number of radioactive isotopes facilitated the increase of the Earth’s internal heat. These processes formed the background for plate tectonic movements, building the mountains and continents on the Earth. Without these movements, most probably, the Earth would be covered by water. Additionally, without the Moon, the formation of the crust will be impossible because the high temperature of the Earth’s surface has been caused by numerous collisions with space rocks. Furthermore, the process of condensation from oceans would be rather slow. Consequently, the formation of water vapor would take a much longer period or would not occur at all. These statements form the understanding that the development of land-based life would be impossible in Moonless Earth.

Tectonic activity performed numerous functions, which facilitated the formation of life on the Earth: crust recycling, bringing minerals from the land to the surface, and cycling carbon. The carbon cycle created the balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby forming the current climate of the planet. Trapping heat and rising temperature caused an increase of evaporation, mass rainfalls, and the washing of carbon dioxide into the water. This facilitated the lowering of air and water temperatures. The carbon dioxide formed limestones in the water and has fallen down on the ocean bottom. Further plate tectonic activity facilitated the return of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The absence of this cycle would cause two courses of negative consequences: an excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could “runaway greenhouse effect”, or the lowered amount of carbon dioxide would form a barrier for trapping the heat in the atmosphere (Spradley, 2010, p. 272).

According to the giant impact theory, the Moon was partly formed from minerals, which lay in the mantle of the Earth before the collision (Spradley, 2010). The influence of the Mars-sized object facilitated the cooling of the surface by radiation. This gave rise to the process of crust formation. Some of the minerals fell back on the surface re-forming crust. They composed a cover suited for life. The non-occurrence of Moon-formation processes would decrease the possibility of reforming the Earth’s crust and the creation of the surface suitable for life.

Moonless Earth, its Position, Temperature and Life on It

Without the influence of the Moon’s gravitation, “the Earth would sometimes tilt all the way over and lie on its side in relation to its orbit around the Sun” (Foster, 2016, p. 314). This would cause significant discrepancies in the daylight. The straitening of the Earth’s axis would make the length of the day and night equal, independently of the season. In such a manner, the difference in winters and summers would be sharper.

Moonless Earth would have spun faster. Thus, the speed of heat exchange between land, sea, and air would also increase. This discrepancy would facilitate the occurrence of hurricanes in the west-east direction of the planet. Their speed may reach 100 miles /hour (Foster, 2016). Thus, weather conditions would become sharper. The existence of various life forms, including humanity, would be rather challenging. Moreover, the increase of nighttime and decreasing of daytime would cause a mismatch between the established biological clocks of living creatures and the new day flow.

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Moreover, a weak high tide would cause issues in the life order of sea creatures. Notwithstanding the fact that Moonless Earth would still have tides created under the influence of the Sun, its strength would be about 30 % of the Earth’s current tides (Spradley, 2010). This could cause the prolongation in the period of dissolving minerals. The periods of evaporation and concentration of nutrients would become insufficient for life-sustaining. The enormous relevance of tidal cycles formed under the influence of the Moon is supported by the fact that tidal pools are widely recognized as “good locations for concentrating nutrients, by evaporation, for emerging life forms” (Spradley, 2010, p. 272). The tides were stronger and tidal pools were larger when the Moon was closer to the Earth. Spradley (2010) introduced a suggestion that strong tidal cycles, which were characterized by frequent periods of wetting and evaporation, formed a favorable environment in which “protonucleic acid fragments” forced the assembling of molecular strands and originated life (Spradley, 2010, p. 272). Therefore, the tidal process is considered to be relevant to the history of the planet as it affected the formation of life. Thus, without the influence of the Moon, the development of life on the Earth would take much longer.

The above-mentioned fastening of the Earth’s spin up would cause the strengthening of the magnetic field and significant changes in the atmosphere. Most probably, the majority of the representatives of current flora and fauna as well as humanity would not be able to adapt to constantly changing temperatures, renewed shifts of days and nights, and high wind.

Tumbling of the Poles

The examples of terrestrial planets, which do not have any moons and show rapid rotations of their poles, prompt an assumption that the behavior of Moonless Earth will be the same. Fast shifts of south and north poles would cause enormous stress on the surface and give rise to the sharpening of volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunamis, and the occurrence of severe magnetic and atmospheric changes. Much faster rotation in combination with the Earth’s enlarged liquid iron core would increase the planet’s magnetic field “to about 100 times larger than any other rocky planet” and strengthen electrical conduction (Spradley, 2010, p. 270). These factors would strip the major part of the Earth’s atmosphere and endanger life on the planet.

Removal of Greenhouse Gases

The formation of the Moon has facilitated the creation of the atmosphere favorable for the development and existence of life on the planet (Spradley, 2010). Moonless Earth would absorb some portion of gasses, such as carbon dioxide, with the help of the surface-atmosphere. However, the major portion would remain. In such a manner, the Earth would not be able to create and hold the atmosphere favorable for life development.

Losing Water Vapor

Moonless Earth would have insufficient gravity for holding the planet’s vapor in the atmosphere. Water vapor is rather vulnerable to leakage because of its small molecular weight. The insufficient extent of water vapor in the atmosphere would threaten the existence of flora and fauna on the Earth.

No Protection from Space Rocks

At the current moment, the Moon acts as a blockade that protects the planet from space rocks and meteors (Martin, 2015). The absence of the Moon would leave the Earth totally unprotected. A small object could burn in the Earth’s atmosphere, while the big ones would fall down on the Earth and would most probably destroy the humanity as well as flora and fauna (Martin, 2015).

Summary

According to the giant impact theory, the Moon has formed as a result of the collision between the Earth and the Mars-size object about 4.53 billion years ago. Since that time until the current moment, it has been playing an enormous role in the assurance of the Earth’s position and rotation, heating the Earth, reflecting the sunlight, and protecting it from the space objects. Without the process of the Moon’s formation, the existing balance of carbon dioxide would not be reached. The formation of continents and cropping up minerals would be impossible. Thus, the conditions for the development of life would not be assured. The position of Moonless Earth would also differ from its current state. The absence of the Moon’s influence would cause an increase in the axis and fluctuation of the planet’s position. In addition, there would be no climate changes. The day length would decrease while the night length would increase. Unfavorable weather conditions (such as severe west-eastern winds) and catastrophes (such as earthquakes) would challenge life existence. Additional significant changes are represented by the tumbling of the poles, the removal of water vapor and greenhouse gasses. Furthermore, Moonless Earth would remain unprotected from space rocks.

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Conclusion

To conclude, the presented ideas and statements concerning the absence of the Moon and its possible effects for the Earth form a clear understanding that this situation would cause tremendous changes in the position, climate, geology, and life on the Earth. The very formation of the conditions favorable for the development and existence of life would be rather challenging. Even if the Moon disappeared at present, the existence of flora, fauna, and humanity would also be questionable because of drastic changes in the atmosphere, climate, daytime, nighttime, and tides. Moonless Earth would be uninhabited or inhabited by creatures different from those existing at the current moment. Moreover, the image of the Earth would change. In the case of the Moon’s non-existence, there would be no continents and seas as present now. Moreover, the surface of the planet would be heavily damaged by space rocks and volcanic activity.

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