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zompist bboard • View topic - Some questions about the moon

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:29 am 
Sanci
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Pretty sure this is the right forum for this.

Will the more hard-science-minded among you please answer a few questions? I've been googling but can't find exactly what I'm looking for.

First, is there a reason that our moon rotates on its axis and orbits the earth in the exact same amount of time, or is it just a coincidence?

Next, supposing an Earthlike planet and a moonlike satellite, if the moon rotated on a different schedule than its orbit, how would that affect the planet? Would there be an effect on the tides, or not really because the gravity would be the same?

Finally, I know moons could be many different colors other than white, just as planets could, but how likely is it for a moon to be multiple colors? That is, that it would have a surface composed of different materials. Since the moon is covered in a lot of kicked up dust, would it all just mix into an average color?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:24 am 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:38 am 
Lebom
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1. There is a reason that the moon rotates around its own axis in the same amount of time that it orbits the Earth (tidally locked). The reason is called tidal drag, and is explained better than I ever could in this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jUpX7J7ySo

2. The answer to the second question is also answered in the video, though less directly. In a short timespan (less that a couple of thound years) the moon would be dragged into a tidally locked situation. I believe that this would not have any serious effect on the parent body, and certainly the size of tides wouldn't be affected.

3. Many bodies have surfaces that are multiple colours, usually due to geological activity, either current or in the past. Take a look at the moon and there are clearly lighter areas and darker areas (the lunar maria (seas)). The dark areas are basaltic plains that are the ploduct of ancient volcanic eruptions. If your conmoon has never had geological activity the tough luck finding a plausible explanation.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:16 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:06 am 
Avisaru
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The Moon is actually slightly colourful which you can see if you take a picture of it and pull the colour saturation up. You can see an example . The different colours show areas with different geology.

In reality the lunar soil is quite dull in colour. I think the reason for this was that it's poor in oxidised minerals; there's no free oxygen around on the Moon. However, exceptions do occur. They found some on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 2:14 pm 
Lebom
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Distance is the biggie missing from the above explanations. Move the moon much further in, and you'll put it inside the Roche limit, where it'll be torn apart and form a ring system. Move it further out and the tidal force (difference in the effect of gravity of a body on the two sides of another body due to the distance between the sides) won't be enough to tidally lock it.

You'll still have tides - remember that the sun also effects the tides - but much smaller and weaker. Note that this will also make Earth less tectonically active.

Also, the tidal force has slowed Earth's rotation by about 6 hours over 4 billion years. Move the moon far enough out to mot he tidally locked and the day will be shorter. Off the top of my head, w/o doing any calculations, we'd likely have a 20 hour or so day.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:08 pm 
Sanci
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Hi,

I agree with the answer above.
I would add that there is tidal heating in the Earth moon system. That is a hypothesis that explains why the moon core is not completely crystallized.
Plus, our moon maybe still volcanically active, the last eruption dates back 18 million years, which is nothing.

If you had a bigger moon by your people, you could have some volcanoes visible.

There is an equation that allows you to compute waiting time before tidal locking, found it on wikipedia.


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