Blowing Up the Moon?!

Read an article at WWN (, about a secret plan by the Russians to blow up the moon to get rid of their harsh winters with 600 megaton nukes. Although this can be safely dismissed as a ridiculous story, I wondered what would be the consequences of such an act? Would the earth be affected by the explosion, or by debris? Would it really improve Russian weather, and what would happen to the global tides? Any other interesting repercussions?

And they say the midwest is in great distress
and NASA blew up the moon …

Cecil on the subject:

Among the fatalist scenarios he lists, I tend to buy this one:

You would need an awful lot of 600 megaton nukes to disintegrate the moon- enough to counteract the gravitational binding energy and put all the material of the moon on orbit around itself.
(anyone know the figures?)
A huge amount of this material would impact the earth… and continue to do so for millions of years.
So unless you want to create continuous meteor shower with enough energy to fry the earth’s crust, it is not recommended.

At a guess it would be 1.25 x 10[sup]29[/sup] watts to destroy the moon…
if Bradbury is correct.

how many megatonnes of TNT is that?

Well, watts is a unit of power, not energy, but if that is 1.25 x 10^29 Joules comes out to 29,875,717,017,208 megatons of TNT, assuming the program I got on this site is correct.

Somewhat easier than blowing up the Moon outright would be to lower its orbit enough that tidal forces from the Earth would pull it apart. When the movie The Time Machine came out last year, I (with a little help from The Bad Astronomer) calculated the energy required in a Cafe thread, and it comes out to about ten million megatons, assuming perfect efficiency.

It’s not too hard if you have a Mark 1 Death Star Battle Station, or even a partially constructed Mark 2 Death Star.

I think we should be working on blasting the moon into intergalactic space before we consider blowing it up. We’re already four years behind schedule.

Isn’t there the little detail of the mass? Just because you blow something up doesn’t mean it is disintigrated. The mass would still be there, abeit in another state. It might dissipate over a larger area, but that could ages.


I suppose you could covert it into pure energy, but I’m guessing a sizable chunk of the solar system would vanish with it.

What about converting the moon rocks into a ring around earth? (Besides the massive problem of debris whanking all orbital objects)

You might be able to pull that off (No pun intended) with some sort of automated mass-driver. And a lot of patience.

'Might run into some trouble when you hit the molten mantle, though.

It is debatable whether the moon has a molten core, although it may have a small one…
it does not seem to be active enough to procuce a magnetic field of any strength, but if you were stripping the moon down by mass driver you would probably need to extract the heat energy of the tiny core to power this process.
Stripping the moon in this way would need the larger value of ~10[sup]13 [/sup] megatons rater than just ~10[sup]7[/sup] to bring it within Roche’s limit.
Using wellaimed mass drivers would allow for the material to be aimed so as to avoid hitting the earth, and you could build thousands of large habitats out of the moon’s material…
however the absence of he moon in a single massive lump would remove the Earth’s daily tides and have all the effects mentioned in Cecil’s column.