Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
Would a nuclear missile destroy a meteorite in the vacuum of space?
Name: Professor Martin
Qualification: Used to work for the Ministry of Defence.
Answer: Nuclear explosions don’t need oxygen, they are created by splitting very heavy metals like plutonium or uranium or by fusing the nuclei of hydrogen. It is a totally different process than burning. So a nuclear missile would destroy a meteorite in space.
Name: Professor Hal
Qualification: Gave a lecture on Trident nuclear missiles
Answer: The first bit is right, you don’t need air to have a nuclear event. The big thing about a nuclear blast is the super-heated air. Nuclear fusion is the power of the sun. If the sun can work as a star in space then so can a nuclear device but I don’t think it’s going to get the same blasting effect and it’s going to make things worse. Instead of having one big meteorite you’re going to have lots and lots of smaller ones scattering the damage across the earth.