The tides on the Earth are mostly generated by the gradient in intensity of the Moon's gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other, the tidal forces. This forms two tidal bulges on the Earth, which are most clearly seen in elevated sea level as ocean tides. Since the Earth spins about 27 times faster than the Moon moves around it, the bulges are dragged along with the Earth's surface faster than the Moon moves, rotating around the Earth once a day as it spins on its axis. The ocean tides are magnified by other effects: frictional coupling of water to Earth's rotation through the ocean floors, the inertia of water's movement, ocean basins that get shallower near land, and oscillations between different ocean basins. The gravitational attraction of the Sun on the Earth's oceans is almost half that of the Moon, and their gravitational interplay is responsible for spring and neap tides. The libration of the Moon over a single lunar month. Gravitational coupling between the Moon and the bulge nearest the Moon acts as a torque on the Earth's rotation, draining angular momentum and rotational kinetic energy from the Earth's spin. In turn, angular momentum is added to the Moon's orbit, accelerating it, which lifts the Moon into a higher orbit with a longer period. As a result, the distance between the Earth and Moon is increasing, and the Earth's spin slowing down. Measurements from lunar ranging experiments with laser reflectors left during the Apollo missio
s have found that the Moon's distance to the Earth increases by 38 mm per year (though this is only 0.10 ppb/year of the radius of the Moon's orbit). Atomic clocks also show that the Earth's day lengthens by about 15 microseconds every year, slowly increasing the rate at which UTC is adjusted by leap seconds. Left to run its course, this tidal drag would continue until the spin of the Earth and the orbital period of the Moon matched. However, the Sun will become a red giant long before that, engulfing the Earth. The lunar surface also experiences tides of amplitude ~10 cm over 27 days, with two components: a fixed one due to the Earth, as they are in synchronous rotation, and a varying component from the Sun. The Earth-induced component arises from libration, a result of the Moon's orbital eccentricity; if the Moon's orbit were perfectly circular, there would only be solar tides. Libration also changes the angle from which the Moon is seen, allowing about 59% of its surface to be seen from the Earth (but only half at any instant). The cumulative effects of stress built up by these tidal forces produces moonquakes. Moonquakes are much less common and weaker than earthquakes, although they can last for up to an hour—a significantly longer time than terrestrial earthquakes—because of the absence of water to damp out the seismic vibrations. The existence of moonquakes was an unexpected discovery from seismometers placed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts from 1969 through 1972.