UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
One of my students and his father asked: Would a bomb explode in space? Since space is a vacuum, I was not sure what would happen.
Answer 1:

The quick answer is -- yes, it will explode. Nearly all explosives carry both reaction components (or an unstable single component like TNT). Effectively, all they need to react is a warm enough temperature and a suitable trigger. On the other hand, without an atmosphere to conduct sound and shock waves, an explosion is silent until the actual debris,ejected from the explosion hit. Thus, the characteristics of damage are substantially different. It is also true that regular bullets will fire from cartridges in space -- Apollo astronauts used a "thumper" which fired such shells to act a sources for seismic studies of the Moon...Since there is no air to slow or deflect it, a bullet in space hits just as hard no matter how far it travels, (unless you are in a gravity well-- then it picks up a lot of additional energy).

Answer 2:

This is a very good question. The shock waves from a bob (which cause the damage) require a medium to propagate. Bombs are much more dangerous under water than they are in air, for example. So in the absence of a medium ie. in outer space, one would expect less damage.However, bombs/explosive are associated with rapid chemical reactions that which create a lot of gas and the rapid spreading of these gases should enable bombs to cause some damage even in space.


Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use