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Excitation of Lunar Eccentricity by Planetary Resonances

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Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 244
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146984

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Abstract

The origin of the Moon's nonnegligible orbital eccentricity of 0.053 has no theoretical explanation. Lunar laser ranging indicates that tides on Earth are currently increasing the Moon's eccentricity. However, ocean tides were likely much weaker during the first billion years, allowing lunar tides to damp any primordial lunar eccentricity very early on. During the tidally driven expansion of its orbit, the Moon must have been affected by two substantial resonances related to Jupiter and Venus, passage through which may have generated today's lunar eccentricity.

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