What if the Moon exploded?
(And how to survive if it did.)
Picture the meteor shower that killed the dinosaurs. Except it’s us this time. Cities collapse. Fires spread. All forms of life are incinerated, even those underground. The world known to humankind is destroyed.
First, the Moon explodes into many pieces of debris. These pieces come crashing down on our surface, destroying everything and everyone. Great fires spread across the globe. The smoke makes it impossible to breathe. Meanwhile, the big pieces of debris resist Earth’s gravitational pull, staying in space and becoming smaller moons.
If you were smart enough to hide underground, life isn’t going to get any better for you. The energy stored inside of the debris turns into heat as it falls through the atmosphere. Within hours, Earth will heat up like a microwave. All forms of life will get incinerated, even those living underground. If you want to survive, you need to escape the planet.
Even if you manage to have a rocket on standby, you will still need to fly out of the atmosphere. Gentle reminder: billions of debris are currently falling out of the sky. But that’s no problem. You are the best pilot in the world. Gracefully, you clear the debris. Soon you are surrounded by the infinite blackness of space. You look back at Earth. What will happen to your home?
Slowly, the flames will disappear. The planet we know will be dead. In time, the absence of the Moon’s gravitational pull will cause Earth’s rotational axis to tilt, messing up seasons and temperatures. The North Pole won’t be cold anymore. The Sahara Desert will have its own mini ice age. There would be no more tides, either. The water level would remain constant. Oceans would be flat.
To finish the show, the remaining debris from the Moon might turn into a ring that rotates around Earth—just like Saturn’s. But no one will be around to enjoy the beauty of the ring.