Dark, cold lunar poles

Dark, cold lunar poles

Fig. 5.26 . The near-vertical orientation of the Moon's north-south rotation axis to the ecliptic plane creates permanent night and deep freeze at the floor of craters located at the lunar poles. These regions might be reservoirs of water ice, delivered there by comets. The angle between the Earth's equator and the ecliptic, or the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, is 23.5 degrees, and this tilt produces the seasons. The Moon provides a steadying influence for the Earth's tilt, keeping it from varying widely and producing dramatic climate variations. Also note that the plane of the lunar orbit falls neither in the Earth's orbital plane nor in the ecliptic.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University