What happens if a Giant Asteroid hits the Moon?

What happens if a Giant Asteroid hits the Moon?

Is Earth affected if a Giant asteroid hits the Moon?

Stories about the end of the world have always been around. The latest one in this regard which also got quite a lot of spotlight was that the world will come to an end in 2012. The reason that was given was that another planet, Nibiru, will collide with the Earth. NASA concluded that it didn’t happen because there is no such planet. Another common fear related to clashes of heavenly bodies is that an asteroid may hit our Moon. It has happened before in the past so it can take place again. The damage will surely depend upon the size of the impact. It can have certain effects on Earth as well and destroying our only natural satellite is the biggest of them all.

Moon has accompanied Earth in its 4.5 billion years journey of revolving around the Sun. It is linked to the entire history of humans through various notions. Animal behavior (howling of wolfs at the moon), Lunacy (Insanity caused by the moon) and farming (harvest moon which determines the time of harvesting) are some common examples. Various objects have impacted with the Moon during all these years. Its atmosphere is different from what we have on Earth. Even small rocks cannot be destroyed and each one of them has left a mark on it. Could an asteroid do more damage than just a crater?

Hypothetically, the answer to this question is YES. An asteroid, which is equal to Moon in size, has the potential to move or even destroy it. This was explained to Popsci by a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, Clark Chapman. Such an explosive collision could send chunks of Moon towards Earth. Fortunately, there is no reported asteroid which is that HUGE. Hence, the possibility of such a catastrophic incident is very meager at least in the near future. However, we must realize the complications associated with this issue. It will change the dynamics of this world in the following ways:

·         Partial Destruction

If an asteroid manages to break the moon up but fails to destroy it completely, the larger components will be pulled back by the gravitational pull. The nuisance will be caused by the smaller parts as they will form rings like the ones that are observed around Saturn. This will make Earth vulnerable to meteorites as these parts will continue to drop out from these rings.

However, the impacts caused by these massive and dense chunks of the moon will carry minimal amounts of energy due to which they will not be as destructive as asteroids or comets. The reason for this is that the speed at which these meteorites move is about 8 km/s while the speed of asteroids can go up to 100 km/s.

·         Lack of Tides

It is a well-known fact that Moon exerts a gravitational pull on the water on Earth. The waves produced are largely due to this pull. If the moon is destroyed, these tides will fade away. This will have a negative effect on those species which rely on ocean currents to move in and out of their feeding grounds. Eventually, human food chain will be disturbed around the world.

·         No More Eclipses

Moon is responsible for different types of eclipses. If there is no moon, there will be no eclipses. For an eclipse to take place, three heavenly bodies must be aligned. The Sun, a planet and the moon of that planet. Total, annular or partial eclipse are all dependent on different positions of the moon with respect to Sun and the planet.

·         Axial Tilt will be Unstable

Earth spins on its axis, tilted at 23.4o with respect to the orbital plane around the Sun. Moon has an important role to play in keeping this movement stable. You might find it strange but it is true. According to NASA, the degree of tilt will be from 0 to 85o. This would change the entire climatic system of the world. Poles of the Earth will not be cold forever. Similarly, the equator will have extremely cool spells. Overall, the hospitable nature of the Earth will change to the much hostile environment.

In light of all these changes described above, it can be concluded that the Earth will be deeply affected if an asteroid hits the Moon.

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