• Question: Is the moon going to die ?

    Asked by 299trn28 to Anne, Beth, COLFlight, Jon, Tom on 12 Oct 2015.
    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 12 Oct 2015:

      Hello! This is Adrianos from Greece, I am Beth’s predecessor as a research doctor at Concordia Station, Antarctica and I am filling in for her today due to connectivity problems over there.

      Is the Moon going to die? Nice question. Well, maybe, but no sooner than the Earth! It depends on what we mean by “dying”. It is calculated that in about 4 billion years’ time, our sun will grow so much in size that it will engulf both the Earth and the Moon. Due to the sun’s extreme heat, that will be the end for our planet and its companion, but hopefully humans will have traveled to other planets by then: that’s another reason we need to continue exploring space!

      But maybe by “death” we mean that the Moon is inhospitable, unable to support life? In that case, the Moon is already “dead”, as it has no atmosphere to protect living organisms (plants, bacteria, animals) and help them flourish. We humans are trying to change that, to make the Moon a place that can sustain life with a little help from us, in closed environments, the future human lunar bases.

      There is another definition for “death” in a celestial body like the Moon: geological death. Our Earth is made up of many layers, the innermost of which is a liquid core. This gives birth to Earth’s magnetic zones (these make a compass point North and also protect us from space radiation). The Moon’s core is no longer liquid, so once again, it appears “dead” in this sense.

      Hope these answer your question! To me the most surprising thing is that the Moon is moving away from the Earth about 4 cm a year. So, in the far future our descendants might see it much, much smaller!