If someone had actually nuked the Moon (e.g. here or Bombing Moon and Mars: What would it look like? ), what's the probability of some debris reaching a stable orbit around the Moon?

This would not only lead to interesting definitions of Moon-Moons but would also result in possible threats to future landing missions.


The empirical answer is that there is absolutely no risk of debris reaching a permanently stable orbit. If so, then there would already be a lot of such because of the millions of impacts that the Moon has been subject to in the past.

However, for human missions, the question should not only be about permanently stable orbits but also about orbits that exist for longer than a few years. Maybe someone with more expertise in orbital mechanics can say something about this.

  • $\begingroup$ The orbit would be too low since the periapse would be that of the explosion. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Nov 19 '18 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Could the contents potentially reach 2.38 km/s and actually insert themselves into earth orbit instead? $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Nov 19 '18 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Antzi There could be some bizarre phenomenon, like a rock outgassing or finish vaporising on one side, which would change its trajectory in flight, but it is rather improbable that it happen strongly enough and in the right direction to give a complete orbit. Even then, low orbit on the Moon is unstable due to mascons, so those would probably crash back on the Moon pretty soon. That said, I would also be very curious to read what someone with more knowledge would have to say there. $\endgroup$ – Eth Nov 19 '18 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn according to Robert Zubrin, absolutely yes. This is what he keeps warning about for a landing Starship. $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Dec 8 '19 at 22:07

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