This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Article: Earth's Stabilizing Moon May Be Unique Within Universe

This recent photo of the moon was taken by astronauts on the International Space Station during the Expedition 24 mission mid-2010. It was posted by cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia's Federal Space Agency. CREDIT: Roscosmos.

New simulations show that Earth's moon is not only unique in the solar system, but may also be rare throughout the universe.

Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop.

Earth spins around its orbital axis, changing its angle toward the sun — its obliquity — by a little more than a degree over the course of thousands of years. These small differences are significant enough to cause the ebb and flow of ice ages.

The moon has long been recognized as a significant stabilizer of Earth's orbital axis. Without it, astronomers have predicted that Earth's tilt could vary as much as 85 degrees. In such a scenario, the sun would swing from being directly over the equator to directly over the poles over the course of a few million years, a change which could result in dramatic climatic shifts.

Such shifts have the potential to impact the development of life.
Read more



Nasa's Curiosity rover zaps Mars rock

Jonathan Amos - BBC News Comments

Pew pew pew pew

Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known

Dave Mosher - National Geographic Comments

The sun is the roundest natural object ever precisely measured, astronomers say.

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion...

Liat Clark - Comments

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion years of cosmic evolution in high resolution

Mars rover searching for signs of life

Lawrence Krauss - CNN Comments

Author and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, discusses what it would be like if we found life on another planet.

'Plate Tectonics' Discovered on...

- - The Daily Galaxy Comments

Mars Science Laboratory Touches Down...

Sean Carroll - Cosmic Variance -... Comments

Launched on November 26, 2011, the mission is scheduled to land on Mars’s Gale Crater tonight/tomorrow morning: 5:31 UTC, which translates to 1:30 a.m. Eastern time or 10:20 p.m. Pacific.





Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment