Moon

The Moon is a relatively large, terrestrial, planet-like satellite, with a diameter about one-quarter of the Earth's. It is the largest moon in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet, although Charon is larger relative to the dwarf planet Pluto. The natural satellites orbiting other planets are called "moons" after Earth's Moon. The gravitational attraction between the Earth and Moon causes tides on Earth. The same effect on the Moon has led to its tidal locking: its rotation period is the same as the time it takes to orbit the Earth. As a result, it always presents the same face to the planet. As the Moon orbits Earth, different parts of its face are illuminated by the Sun, leading to the lunar phases; the dark part of the face is separated from the light part by the solar terminator. Due to their tidal interaction, the Moon recedes from Earth at the rate of approximately 38 mm a year. Over millions of years, these tiny modifications—and the lengthening of Earth's day by about 23 µs a year—add up to significant changes.[148] During the Devonian period, for example, (approximately 410 mya) there were 400 days in a year, with each day lasting 21.8 hours.[149] Details of the Earth-Moon system. Besides the radius of each object, the radius to the Earth-Moon barycenter is shown. Photos from NASA. Data from NASA. The Moon's axis is located by Cassini's third law. The Moon may have dramatically affected the development of life by moderating the planet's climate. Pal

ontological evidence and computer simulations show that Earth's axial tilt is stabilized by tidal interactions with the Moon.[150] Some theorists believe that without this stabilization against the torques applied by the Sun and planets to the Earth's equatorial bulge, the rotational axis might be chaotically unstable, exhibiting chaotic changes over millions of years, as appears to be the case for Mars.[151] Viewed from Earth, the Moon is just far enough away to have very nearly the same apparent-sized disk as the Sun. The angular size (or solid angle) of these two bodies match because, although the Sun's diameter is about 400 times as large as the Moon's, it is also 400 times more distant.[140] This allows total and annular solar eclipses to occur on Earth. The most widely accepted theory of the Moon's origin, the giant impact theory, states that it formed from the collision of a Mars-size protoplanet called Theia with the early Earth. This hypothesis explains (among other things) the Moon's relative lack of iron and volatile elements, and the fact that its composition is nearly identical to that of the Earth's crust.[152] Earth has at least five co-orbital asteroids, including 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29.[153][154] As of 2011, there are 931 operational, man-made satellites orbiting the Earth.[155] On July 27, 2011, astronomers reported a trojan asteroid companion, 2010 TK7, librating around the leading Lagrange triangular point, L4, of Earth in Earth's orbit around the Sun.