What Happens When We Nuked The Moon?


Moon by RichardTurnerPhotography is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Source: Richard Turner

“Moon” by RichardTurnerPhotography is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

By: Elvis Pham, Journalist

We all have seen the moon, but have you wondered what would happen if we blew that up with a nuke? This article will show you the bad if we ever nuked the moon, but let’s go back in time. During the cold war, the moon was a big target for space exploration for building military bases. So the US Air Force commissioned a massive study into the effects of a nuke explosion on the moon. So if we imagined experimenting with a 100 megaton thermonuclear warhead detonated on the moon, we would need to know how it would detonate. Once the warhead hits the moon, the high explosives would send a shockwave to the radioactive metal core which would get compressed so much that it would cause a nuclear fission chain reaction, this would set the core off, and then the explosives. The nuke would explode and dissolve which would create a fireball. But there’s one major difference, there is no atmosphere, which wouldn’t cause burning on the moon since the X-rays and thermal photons from the warhead are shooting in all directions, but on earth, it would char and burn everything because there is a lot of oxygen-rich air. The burning wouldn’t happen because the topsoil is made from silicate rock metals chewed to dust by eons of meteorite impacts which are mixed with water. Once the moon gets heated by the explosion, it would vaporize a thin cloud of rocks from the lunar surface, while the dust is being melted into glass. Now we will see one of the biggest differences between the explosions on the moon than on the earth. On earth, the atmosphere tries to fight back with its pressure against the plasma bubble, but it would cause a shockwave which would release compressed air at the speed of sound that can shatter buildings so loud that it can rupture organs. But on the moon, there would be no shockwave since there is no atmosphere, but it would just keep growing in silence as there is no atmosphere to stop it. We couldn’t even see it because, without the atmosphere, the ionizing radiation can scramble DNA that would expose us to fatal amounts of radiation. Now, this is just a small fraction of what would happen if we nuked the moon, to see all the causes, watch the video posted for this article!


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