Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

Can you fire a gun on the Moon?

Yes, you can fire a gun on the Moon, despite the absence of oxygen.

A gun "fires" because of a sudden impulse delivered to the gunpowder by the trigger. The gun powder then explodes, imparting a lot of energy to the bullet which shoots out of the gun's barrel. In order to trigger the explosion of the gun powder, you need an oxidizer that will initiate the chemical reaction. On Earth, a common oxidizer is, well, oxygen: that's what makes fires burn and cars rust! Despite the abundance of oxygen on Earth, however, most gun ammunition comes with its own oxidizer "built in", so to speak. The result is that a gun can fire even in the absence of oxygen, such as on the Moon.

This technology is also useful in certain circumstances on the Earth; most notably, sometimes one wishes to cause an explosion on the ocean floor (say, for exploratory purposes), where oxygen is in short supply.

February 2003, Matija Cuk (more by Matija Cuk) (Like this Answer), Kristine Spekkens (more by Kristine Spekkens) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about General Physics: Previous | Next

More questions about The Moon: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

This page has been accessed 70414 times since February 18, 2003.
Last modified: February 18, 2003 7:58:56 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)