What If We Nuke the Moon?

Gloomy Gusses and naysayers will doubtless say this is a bad idea, but hear them out!


7 Responses

  1. Fun fact: I once attended a lecture by Prof. Alexander Abian. Yes, I did! I majored in Math at Iowa State, and one day the lecturer for my Real Analysis class was out of town and Dr. Abian filled in. He didn’t talk about the Moon that day – he just gave a straight-up lecture on the particular topic of class we were studying that day. He struck me as a weird guy but a good mathematician, which it turns out he very much was, on both counts.
    Who was Prof. Abian? Why, he is regarded by many as the world’s very first internet crank. He really believed, and posted on Usenet regularly, that the world would be a better place if we destroyed the Moon. Yes, really.

  2. For some reason, we have been watching a lot on our TV the last year and a half. As I frequently comment to Das Husband, “straight boys sure do love their explosions and car chases.” And he always responds, “how can you tell a story without them?”

    1. I had the same conversation with El Jefe the night before last. It ended with a sniff and a retreat to our room where I read and considered myself superior in the way I was utilizing my time. (I didn’t mean for the door to slam that loudly.)

      He (gleefully) thinks he has an accomplice when boys #2 and #3 are around (boy #6 is up and coming).

      I realized after a bit of righteous indignation, that the book I was reading was about psychopaths, murder and body parts.

      1. I get tired of the mindless violence myself. The explosions and the car chases are not only gratuitous, but (according to a long ago friend, the worst thing an artist can do) DERIVATIVE.

  3. I attended a public viewing party for the LCROSS mission. It deliberately crashed the spent upper stage of the rocket that launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter into the moon in order to study the composition of the lunar surface – in particular, looking for evidence of water in a deeply shadowed polar crater.

    I was surprised and amused, on leaving the science museum hosting the event, and in spite of orbital mechanics meaning the event had concluded around 4 AM, to find a small group of people dressed up as “Mooninites,” protesting the bombing of their home.

    NASA did similar during the Apollo program. The spent upper stages from some of the Saturn rockets were steered to collide with the moon so that seismometers left by previous missions could record the impacts. Comparing the timing of the arrival of different seismic waves allowed geologists to determine the internal structure of the moon.

    The energy of those Saturn impacts was equivalent to approximately 10 tons of TNT, putting them roughly on par with the smallest nuclear warheads tested. So curiously enough, from that standpoint, we effectively did already nuke the moon.

    Asteroids like the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 are estimated to hit the earth once or twice a century, and have likewise probably hit the moon numerous times in recorded history. Those would have an energy equivalent similar to some of the larger warheads the US currently possesses.

    It doesn’t sound like the US ever developed much interest in the idea beyond a theoretical studies. The project lasted less than a year. Looking up the US project, the scenario the video discusses is a couple orders of magnitude larger than what was studied in the actual project.

    NASA currently monitors the moon for significant meteor impacts to continue to do similar studies as what would have been one of the goals of the Project A119, as well as get a better idea how likely a major earth impact is.

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