Steadying influence

Steadying influence

. The Moon holds the Earth upright in space, stabilizing its orientation and keeping the planet from tilting over. Without the Moon's influence, chaotic forces could tip the Earth's rotation axis down so far that its poles are pointing at or away from the Sun, producing wild swings in the Earth's climate. This image of the Moon and Earth was taken from a distance of 6.2 billion meters, by the Galileo spacecraft on 16 December 1992, soon after swinging around the Earth on its way to Jupiter. (Courtesy of JPL and NASA.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University