Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
April 1, 2024 ·  3 min read

The Moon Is Slowly Drifting Away From Earth

While it would appear to any casual observer that the Moon is where it is always supposed to be, scientists think that the Moon is moving further away each day. Ever since the dawn of the Universe, mankind has been fascinated by the nearest celestial object to our Earth. For centuries, we had wondered about how it must feel up there, and thanks to the technology we created in the 20th century, we were finally able to realize that dream. Now, the biggest dream for most astronomers would be to live on the Moon at some point in this millennium.

But it could cause a massive problem if we do establish multiple colonies in space, it would lead to a new space war between the nations that will be trying to create their own separate territory on the Moon. As it turns out, NASA has also started issuing contracts for the creation of technology that will allow humanity to create roads and habitats on the Moon’s surface. But people who do live there will always be wary of the long commute back to our planet.

In such a situation, there is some bad news for those desiring to create a settlement on the Moon as scientists have discovered that our natural satellite has been drifting away from us slowly at a rate of 3.78 cm per year. While this is not a very pleasant thought, it does feel like our 4.5 billion-year-old neighbor has finally had enough of us to deal with over multiple lifetimes. 

The Moon’s Movement Affects Our Climate

The discovery of the Moon’s shift was done thanks to a bunch of reflective panels that had been set up on the Moon all the way back during the Apollo mission in 1969, which has allowed NASA to measure the distance between Earth and the Moon for the last five decades. Interestingly, although the Moon has been moving away from the Earth in recent times, it would be impudent and incorrect to assume that this has been going on ever since its creation. This was stated by Professor Joshua Davies of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, and research associate Margriet Lantink of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with their fellow colleagues at the University of Geneva and Utrecht University. 

These scientists have explained that the if the rate of recession of the Moon had been constant over the last 4 billion years, then it would have actually collided with our planet around 1.5 billion years ago- which is actually quite impossible since the Moon is around three times older than that. The reason behind this apparent movement is pure science, called the Milankovitch cycle, where minute changes in the orbit of the Earth around the Sun could potentially change the amount of sunlight that Earth receives. 

These cycles are capable of affecting the climate of our planet and leaving the evidence on the ground itself. So when researchers decided to dig up old sediment, they could measure the wobble of the Earth- allowing them to figure out just how far away the Moon is from our planet.

Keep Reading: Astronaut shares the profound ‘big lie’ he realized after seeing the Earth from space


  1. The Moon is slowly drifting away from Earth.” Unilad. Joe Harker. February 23, 2023.
  2. “What Happens as the Moon Moves Away from the Earth?” National Radio AStromony Observatory. March 1, 2013.
  3. “Why is the Moon moving away from us?” Science Focus.