What is the origin of the Moon?

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The Moon has been circling the Earth for over four billion years, but where did it come from?

In this video, Ralf Jaumann, planetary geologist at the German Aerospace Centre, DLR, discusses the four theories that could explain the origin of the Earth-Moon system.

There are four theories about the origin of the Earth-Moon system.

The first is that Earth captured a celestial body in its orbit. Another possibility is that a rapidly rotating Earth could have thrown material out to form the Moon around it. A third theory is that Earth and the Moon formed at the same time out of the same material. Today, most scientists believe the Moon is ‘Earth’s child’ – a large body collided with Earth, destroying our planet’s mantle and sending material into orbit from which the Moon formed. This ‘big splash’ theory would explain why the Moon’s rocks are similar to those on Earth.

Find out more about the why and how of lunar exploration on ESA’s interactive guide of the Moon: https://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro

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11 Comments

  1. I think the moon is probably a mass that got pulled into the Earth's orbit slowly got got larger over time with shit colliding into it and space dust. Err.. maybe… Its was a space station put into orbit by a past civilization and just grew into what it is now collecting dust.. But I'm just talking. I have no idea 😅

  2. Just a wild, crazy idea, but… I think Mars was inhabited before Earth. I'm talking like tens if not hundreds of thousands of years ago. At the risk of sounding like the Superman movie, Mars was having environmental issues/losing their atmosphere, they built a ship, or altered a moon of Mars or in the asteroid belt, with Earth in mind, to help it's development. And sent this spacecraft, the MOON, to Earth filled with needed supplies and wildlife. Possible Ark comparison, maybe? Once they got to Earth, they set it to the proper orbit/specifications it's at currently, then came to Earth to live. They built the great pyramid and various other structures all around the world that we couldn't have built, even by today's abilities. The great pyramid is the only one built like it functioned as some kind of device. The other pyramids were built more recently trying to duplicate the original. Anyway, they didn't have the factories or the necessities to maintain the spacecraft for a long period of time so they wasted away. Or catastrophe struck and survivors didn't know how to continue maintenance of spacecraft. I also think life on Earth has been wiped out a couple times(asteroids, pole shifts, even nuclear war possibly) since then, with very little information passing through to the next generation of humans as we call ourselves. We just keep picking up the pieces and moving along. Again, just a thought… It would be nice if we didn't have to rely on gov't to explore these types of issues… no way to confirm or deny, but interesting, I think.

  3. How can the earth be older than the moon, while at the same time you say the moon is made from part of the earths mantle. How can you measure two different ages when you say they are made up from the "same" body.

  4. Wonderful explanation. I watched with my eight year old nephew who is fascinated by space and he grasped it immediately. I am not an astronomer by any means, but I understand there is still some resistance to the impact theory. But why? I comprehend there is not enough evidence to substantiate the moon's origins with a high degree of confidence (yet), but among the counter-theories you offered it seems they have all been refuted, whereas the impact theory at least has not. Is there a competing theory that rivals the impact theory that has not been refuted?

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