Scientists discover evidence of lunar tidal effects in Earth’s plasmaphere

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — A team of Chinese scientists and their foreign counterparts have for the first time detected evidence of a signal generated by the lunar tides in Earth’s plasmasphere, the inner region of the magnetosphere, which is filled with cold plasma.

The study, conducted by scientists from Shandong University, the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other institutions, was recently published in the journal Nature Physics.

According to scientists, the effects of lunar tides have been reported on the Earth’s crust, oceans, gas-dominated neutral atmosphere and near-Earth magnetic field. However, it has not been explored whether the lunar tidal effect is present in plasma-dominated regions.

Xiao Zhao, co-first author of the paper and a researcher at Shandong University, said they reached the new findings by analyzing data from more than 10 satellites over the past four decades.

Scientists discovered that the signal caused by the lunar tide in the Earth’s plasma envelope has distinct diurnal and monthly cycles, which differs from the prevailing semi-diurnal and semi-monthly changes in the effects of the lunar tide previously observed in other regions.

The new findings, Xiao said, expand our understanding of the interactions between the Earth and the Moon in a direction not thought of before.

He added that the findings also provide important clues for future investigations into larger regions and two-body astronomical systems, including other planetary systems in our solar system and beyond.

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