New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Lunar Origins

Team: 29

School: Cleveland High

Area of Science: Astronomy


Interim: Problem Definition:
The origin of the moon has spawned many theories. One of which, involves a cataclysmic collision of Earth with another large planetary object about the size of Mars early on in the development of the solar system, breaking off part of the planet and forming the moon, whilst some others merely state that the moon and the earth were separately formed and the moon was caught in Earth’s gravitational field. Theories which suggest that the moon was once part of earth, however, are regarded as closer to the truth due to the similar chemical composition between both bodies. The goal of this project is to simulate the primordial solar system at the approximate time of the moon’s creation.

Problem Solution:
The planned simulation is to take place in Netlogo, in which the particles would be programmed to form a representation of the earth as it is being formed. “Earth“, in its creation, is spinning at such a high velocity, that, due to centrifugal force, pieces of it break off, thus, forming the moon. Both centripetal and centrifugal forces would need to be in play during this process. Axes attracting the rotating particles would be placed first at the “earth’s” center, then as particles broke off, at the center of the area that would become the “moon”.

Progress to Date:
The previous project from our team, stated earlier in the year, involved the attempt at detecting and possibly predicting trends in the stock market. However, this was termed too unfamiliar to work with at present, and the current one, as described above was decided on. Currently, a mentor in programming is required to make any progress.

Expected Results:
This is expected to provide a visual of the creation of our moon, and a possible basis for future projects. Once the current program is finished, it could be altered to be used for subsequent projects, such as being a simulation of what would happen if the moon were to disappear, or if it were never formed in the first place.

References:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/moon_formation.html
http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/moon/moon_evolution_overview.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/18/moon-formed-in-massive-collision_n_1977927.html

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/space/planets-solar-system/moon/origins/index.html

http://www.space.com/18106-moon-formation-earth-giant-impact.html



Team Members:

  Gaia Kutkuhn
  Alexander Dineen
  Jaeger Falco
  Courtney McClure
  Stephanie Garcia
  Alannah Alexander

Sponsoring Teacher: Debra Loftin

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