I was talking to a few people about the recent news about mining the moon
and someone mentioned that this is a bad idea because it'll decrease the mass of the moon (and increase the mass of the Earth, as the raw ore comes home for processing), thus affecting the tides and potentially destroying some or all ocean habitats.
On a purely theoretical level, I realize that this is true. But how realistic are these concerns?
How much mass would actually need to be removed from the moon in order to significantly affect the tides, especially if the mass isn't just disappearing, but is being transferred to the Earth?
My question is actually three-fold:
- How much would the mass of the moon need to decrease in order to have an impact on the tides, assuming that the missing mass is added to the mass of the Earth?
- How likely is it that this would ever happen, even assuming large-scale lunar mining operations become commonplace?
- Assuming the mass of the moon and/or Earth was changed dramatically enough to alter the tides, what impact would this have on the oceans and on life on Earth more generally?
is related, but doesn't quite answer the questions that I'm asking.