What would happen to Earth if a meteor struck the moon?

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Robert McCrary

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Robert McCrary  asked the Naked Scientists:
Have there been any studies that address the effects that a meteor strike on the moon would have on the Earth?

I have seen numerous theories espoused regarding meteor strikes on Earth resulting in Nuclear Winter conditions and species die-offs. But, I have never seen anything regarding what effects  a massive meteor strike on the moon would have on Earth's weather, plants or animals.

Robert McCrary
Franklin, TN 37064

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 14/01/2010 22:30:03 by _system »


Offline LeeE

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What would happen to Earth if a meteor struck the moon?
« Reply #1 on: 15/01/2010 00:12:06 »
Even the strike of a very large body hitting our Moon, as long as it wasn't a significant fraction of the Moon's mass, would have no effect here on Earth, apart from the possibility of a bumper crop of small lunar meteorites ending up here on Earth as a result of the debris thrown up.

The reason there would be no effect here on Earth is that there is no medium between the Earth and the Moon by which the effects could travel and have an effect; we'd see the flash if it happened on Earth-side, but we'd not hear or feel any shockwaves etc.

If the mass of the body was a significant fraction of the Moon's mass then there would be a risk of it breaking up the Moon, which would be pretty serious.  However, we're not just talking about large asteroids hitting the Moon here, but small planet sized objects.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!


Offline litespeed

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What would happen to Earth if a meteor struck the moon?
« Reply #2 on: 16/01/2010 00:49:44 »

Meteor strikes routinely take place on all planetary bodies, including the earth. However, excluding big ones on the earth itself, none have any significance to life on earth. With one very big possible exception.  There are some individuals who believe it is possible life was planted on earth by impact ejecta from Mars that included Martian life that subsequently flourished.

In fact, there is a specialized scientific discipline that searches for Martian rocks ejected to earth by impacts on Mars. They look for these meteors primarily in the antarctic where they can sometimes be found on the surface. At least one of these Martian rocks has been in this controversy for decades. Microscopic analysis shows ambiguous evidence of microbial life. However, I believe the consensus is against that finding.