360° Coverage : The Earth's Gravity Is Pulling So Hard At The Moon, It...

The Earth's Gravity Is Pulling So Hard At The Moon, It's Bulging

May 30 2014, 12:12pm CDT | by

Everyone knows that the power of the Moon’s gravity is what moves the oceans’ tides here on Earth, but that’s not all the gravitational tug-of-war between the two celestial bodies is doing.

The force between the two is so strong that each sphere is ever so slightly pulling the other into a lopsided egg shape that points towards the opposing body. But because the Moon is such a solid body with a small core and only one side of it is facing us at a time, it’s not the easiest thing for scientists to study./>/>

“The deformation of the moon due to Earth’s pull is very challenging to measure, but learning more about it gives us clues about the interior of the moon,” said Erwan Mazarico, a scientist with MIT who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

To find out more about lunar body tide, researchers have combined data from two NASA missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been investigating the Moon since 2009, and the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) satellites, which circled our night-time space rock for a year before impacting on its surface at the end of 2012. Using both missions allowed the scientists to take the entire Moon into account, not just the side that can be seen from down here.

Although the Moon is tough, the force from Earth is still enough to raise a bulge around 20 inches high on the near side of and a similar-sized one on the far side. Those bulges don’t always stay in the same place either. Although the same side of the Moon constantly faces Earth, the tilt and shape of its orbit makes the near side seem to wobble.

null , moving a few inches over time. A few studies have been able to see these subtle changes from Earth, but LRO and GRAIL have given scientists the opportunity to observe the lunar tide from orbit.

LRO used the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) to map the height of features on the surface. By examining the data for locations the orbiter sighted more than once, the researchers could calculate whether the height had risen or fallen, indicating that the bulge was shifting.

GRAIL’s detailed map of the Moon’s gravity field allowed the team to pinpoint exactly how far over the surface LRO was for each measurement to help their calculations.

The researchers were able to confirm that both the estimated size of the tide and the overall stiffness of the Moon were similar to prior observed results – and improve the margin of error.

“This study provides a more direct measurement of the lunar body tide and much more comprehensive coverage than has been achieved before,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at Goddard.

For more news on forces beyond our ken and other science and tech stuff, follow me on Twitter and Google +.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

First Italian female astronaut ready for spaceflight
Rome, Nov 24 (IANS) History will be made Monday with the first ever Italian female astronaut set to go into space for a mission on board the International Space Station (ISS).
 
 
Mummy wearing jewellery unearthed in Egypt
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Spanish archaeologists have discovered about 4,000 years old female mummy wearing rare jewellery in Egypt.
 
 
Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

270 Syrian refugees saved off coast of Cyprus
Nicosia, Nov 24 (IANS) A boat carrying 270 Syrian refugees trying to reach Europe was towed to the Turkish controlled northern coast of Cyprus after drifting for several hours. The rescue operation took place...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
It?s direction over acting for Jolie
Los Angeles, Nov 24 (IANS) Actress Angelina Jolie says she is now looking to focus on her directing career. "I've never been comfortable as an actor -- I've never loved being in front of the camera. I didn't ever...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Al Qaeda-linked fighters target two Shia towns in Syria
Damascus, Nov 24 (IANS) The Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and like-minded groups attacked two pro-government and predominantly Shia towns, in Syria's Aleppo province. The attack on the towns of Nubul and Zahra Sunday...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Pattinson gets naughty with FKA Twigs in public
Los Angeles, Nov 24 (IANS) Actor Robert Pattinson seemed to be in a playful mood when he grabbed his girlfriend FKA Twigs's derriere while strolling here recently. The duo had stepped out together Friday afternoon for...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Focus shifts to 'political agreement' over Iranian nuclear issue
Tehran, Nov 24 (IANS) Iran and six world powers would now look to negotiate a "political agreement" as a comprehensive deal by the Nov 24 deadline would be "impossible", Iranian officials said. "We haven't been...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Political leader shot dead in Pakistan
Karachi, Nov 24 (IANS) A leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), Ziauddin was gunned down Sunday by unknown assailants in Orangi Town in the Pakistani city of Karachi, media reported. According to police, the leader...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Israeli cabinet pushes to make country 'Jewish state' by law
Jerusalem, Nov 24 (IANS) The Israeli cabinet approved a bill Sunday, which enshrines in law that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people and that this right is unique to them. Fifteen ministers voted in...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
When Lily Allen's sex life 'lacked magic'
Los Angeles, Nov 24 (IANS) Singer Lily Allen, who says she didn't enjoy a great sex life until she was in her mid-20s, believes sex needs to be reprented as an "emotive experience" in popular media. She says the media...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Bangladesh beats Zimbabwe in second ODI
Dhaka, Nov 24 (IANS) Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe by 68 runs in the second one day international (ODI) at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chittagong Sunday, to go 2-0 up in the five-match cricket series. Batting...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Stand up for your rights, Imran Khan tells Pakistanis
Islamabad, Nov 24 (IANS) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said Sunday that the people of Pakistan must stand up for their rights, when the party holds a rally Nov 30 in Islamabad. Addressing a public...
Read more on Politics Balla