WHAT WOULD HAP­PEN IF WE BLEW UP THE MOON?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A -

1. EX­PLO­SION

The grav­i­ta­tional bind­ing en­ergy of the Moon is 120 mil­lion, tril­lion gi­ga­joules. This means that un­less you de­liver that much en­ergy in one go, the Moon will just crack apart and re­form into a sphere. To blow it up, you’ll need to drill mine shafts hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres deep, all over the Moon, and drop a to­tal of 600 bil­lion of the largest nu­clear bombs ever built down them.

2. DE­BRIS

Any Moon de­bris that falls on Earth will only have about 1 per cent of the im­pact en­ergy of a sim­i­lar-sized as­ter­oid, be­cause of the lower or­bital speed. But smaller stones would still be lethal as they would be so nu­mer­ous. The ki­netic en­ergy of the stones would be ab­sorbed by the at­mos­phere as they burned up, heat­ing the at­mos­phere un­til all life was in­cin­er­ated.

3. TILT

The re­main­ing de­bris will spread out into rings around the planet. With­out the sta­bil­is­ing tidal drag from a sin­gle moon, the Earth’s ax­ial tilt will wob­ble far more than it does now. Over tens of thou­sands of years, Earth could tilt all the way past 45°, so that most of one hemi­sphere faces the Sun con­tin­u­ously, and the other is in per­pet­ual dark­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.