Collisions with the Earth: the Moon's contribution
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In the present work is analyzed the contribution of the Moon on the collisional process of the Earth with asteroids (NEOs). The dynamical system adopted is the restricted four-body problem Sun-Earth-Moon-particle. Using a simple analytical approach one can verify that, the orbit of an object can be significantly affected by the Moon's gravitational field when their relative velocity is smaller than 5 km/s. Therefore, the present work is based on hypothetical asteroids whose velocities relative to Moon are of the order of 1 km/s. In fact, there are several real objects (NEOs) with such velocities at the point they cross the Earth's orbit. The net results obtained indicate that the Moon helps to avoid collisions (2.6%) more than it contributes to extra collisions (0.6%). (C) 2003 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.