Since nuclear bombs offer one of the few ways humanity could potentially end up on its own, it’s worth thinking about the gigantic destruction they cause. For example, imagining what would happen if someone detonated a modern nuclear bomb inside a city reveals a nightmare beyond imagination. Now, let’s also take a look at what would happen if humanity attacked the Moon.
The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, which literally translates to “in a nutshell” from German, created the video above. The channel has already created countless explanators who educated people on complex topics, from “star engines” to genetic engineering. As well as other scary nuclear bomb scenarios.
Kurzgesagt notes that the impetus for the video was a study commissioned by the US Air Force during the Cold War. During the period, which runs from the late 1940s to early 1990s, the Moon was a consideration for military bases. As part of exploring what the Moon could offer a nuclear-armed nation, the study modeled what would happen if we bombed it.
Using a 100 Megaton thermonuclear warhead as a reference – which is twice as powerful as the most powerful ever detonated – Kurzgesagt shows how bombing the Moon would create a massive explosion on its surface; one not hindered by an atmosphere, allowing it to expand far more than it would be here on Earth.
Armor Research Foundation
The lack of atmosphere would also mean that anyone watching the nuclear bomb explode would be dead. Kurzgesagt notes that Earth’s atmosphere is ultimately what prevents the radiation from nuclear bomb explosions from spreading. But on the Moon, it would radiate freely and even kill people on orbiting spaceships.
The representation would have been rapid, however, and, in a cosmological sense, the explosion would not have been that notable. The study found that the Moon’s orbit would remain unchanged (Kurzgesagt says a nuclear weapon would move the Moon as much as someone blowing air would move a truck), and would simply be left with another crater on its surface.
For mankind, however, the bomb blast would have been quite terrible. Pieces of the moon would rain down on Earth and wipe out satellites and spacecraft in orbit. There would also be radioactive debris on the surface of the moon. But while terrible, this is nothing compared to what would happen if we detonated an atomic bomb on Earth.