The Moon a Present from Venus [Video]

Earth orbit

Our own moon may be a present from Venus, a new theory is suggesting. Under this idea, Earth’s gravity grabbed hold of Venus’ moon, and took it over for our own planet.

This notion is completely in opposition to the ways of thinking of popular researchers of our moon, who believe that the Earth’s satellite was formed over 4.5 billion years ago when a planet-size body crashed into the Earth at a very high speed. The massive impact theory has its own issues, as do all alternative moon formation ideas which were discussed at the Origin of the Moon Conference at the Royal Society. The idea of Earth capturing the moon from Venus means that our planet would have had to use its gravitational tug in order to draw another space body into its own orbit, thus making a satellite of this body.

Yet, the chemical make-up of both the Earth and moon seems to disprove this idea. Numerous studies of lunar rocks brought back by NASA’s Apollo moon missions show the satellite has an isotopic structure very much alike to Earth’s own. This makes the idea that the moon is a present from Venus an unlikely one.

Isotopes are about the variations of chemical foundations which contain the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons inside their make-up. Two different isotopes will behave the same way chemically if they have the same chemical base.
Since the moon and Earth have extremely comparable isotopes, the capture theory from Venus just does not make sense. The isotopic closeness proposes that either what makes up the moon is from the Earth or the moon and Earth materials got mixed up somehow.

There are many theories for what might have caused such a big orb for a planet as small as Earth. The most popular theory assumes an impact, where the debris of the collision made the moon. This body then stayed in orbit about the Earth, forever bound to its new home caught in our home’s gravitational pull.

The theory that the Earth captured the moon from Venus will get new life pumped into it if scientists study rocks from Venus and they also turn out to be similar to those on Earth. That would cause more people to be in favor of the idea that Earth did capture the moon from Venus. Rocks from that planet need to be collected and studied in detail to see what they are made of, so a more in-depth analysis can actually be made, and this theory can be allowed to live on or sent to die a quiet death.

Unlike Earth, the formation of any moon of Venus may have happened quite a bit earlier, maybe even shortly after the creation of the solar system itself. But nothing is known for sure, and until scientists have figured out some of the different scenarios, even the escaped moon of Venus can be considered a possible theory. The moon may be a present from Venus or the Earth might have out right stolen it. All of those possibilities still exist.


Written by: Kimberly Ruble



Washington Post

Discover Magazine

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