Is there life on Mars…or the potential for a catastrophic explosion? If so, do we need to worry? After all, Mars is one of our closest neighbors as the fourth planet from the sun. If I’ve got you panicking, don’t worry! It’s very unlikely that Mars will explode anytime soon. It has lasted billions of years without exploding already, just like all of the other planets that formed in our solar system. No doubt you are still curious about how Mars could potentially explode. What would happen to us here on Earth if were to? And the rest of the solar system too? We’ll get through all of the important questions, and thankfully, we’ll be able to do so without having to worry about it actually happening here today!
So, what would happen if Mars exploded? If Mars exploded, chunks of debris would travel at high-velocity speeds in a variety of directions throughout space. At first, the debris would clatter into Mars’ moons, the most nearby objects. Then debris and gamma radiation would continue on through space and smash into whatever they came into contact with. If they were to collide with Earth, it would have devastating consequences.
Rest assured, the chances of all this happening are very unlikely.
Still, it’s fascinating to explore. So let’s continue to do that, shall we?
How Could Mars Explode?
Mars could explode if it was able to increase its mass to a level where its thermonuclear reactions were so substantial that they could ignite and blow up the planet. Alternatively, it might explode if it crashed into another planet, but that would require some serious energy behind the collision.
For a while now, we’ve known that there’s some crazy activity happening on Mars. This includes…explosions!
When these explosions were first noticed by humans, it was believed that the explosions were of volcanic origin.
Now it is true that Mars has volcanoes.
In fact, its biggest volcano, called Olympus Mons, is 100 times bigger than our biggest here on Earth, Mauna Loa, which is located in Hawaii.
Not only is this volcano bigger than any we have on Earth, but it is also the biggest in our solar system.
So, a lot of the explosive activity we can see on Mars is to be attributed to the volcanoes on that planet.
However, no volcano there could erupt and consequently blow up the planet.
But explosions seen on Mars aren’t always attributable to volcanic activity on the surface.
In the past, it was believed that some of the explosions were the result of thermonuclear reactions.
It is through thermonuclear reactions that a planet could potentially explode.
Now, stay with me. Stars burn and eventually explode at the end of their existence.
They are able to do this because they have thermonuclear reactions occurring deep inside their core centers.
But it’s not just about them having thermonuclear reactions. It’s also about them having thermonuclear reactions on a vast scale.
Any object in space that has less than 8% of our sun’s mass is unable to ignite and explode because its nuclear reactions aren’t substantial enough.
So, stars are basically big enough to explode via thermonuclear reactions.
However, some stars are too small and, therefore, unable to ignite, and these are known as brown dwarfs.
But let’s talk about Mars now.
However, it’s quite big, Mars, although nowhere near the biggest planet in our solar system; it would require so much more mass for it to have the ability to ignite itself and explode.
So, if Mars does want to ignite and explode, it needs to find a way to gain a serious, serious amount of mass.
We’re not talking about doubling up. Trust me; we’re talking about a serious, serious increase in mass.
Jupiter, for example, which is the biggest planet in our solar system, would require 13 times more of its present mass to have the ability to ignite itself and explode via thermonuclear reactions.
Just to put that into perspective, Jupiter is the same length as 20 clones of Mars.
So you do the math. Mars needs to put on quite a few pounds if it wants more substantial thermonuclear reactions.
If Mars was able to somehow gain this mass, it would eventually then explode when it ran out of gas.
The alternative cause for Mars to explode would be if it collided with another planet. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, either.
Even if Mars did collide with another planet, that would not guarantee a full-on explosion.
An unimaginable amount of energy and force is required to explode a planet.
If that energy and force weren’t present, then Mars wouldn’t explode. Instead, it would probably just be broken up into pieces.
What Would Happen To Earth If Mars exploded?
If Mars exploded, Earth could be affected. Loose debris might crash into Earth’s surface, killing billions. The gamma radiation produced by the explosion might also reach Earth, and that would have some pretty undesirable consequences. And our investigations into Mars would change forever.
Loose debris from Mars’ hypothetical explosion would travel through space at high-velocity speeds.
If any of this debris collided with Earth, the results would be devastating.
The bigger the piece of debris, the more devastating the impacts would be on our planet’s surface.
Earth itself, the planet, but for some surface damage. The collision with the debris would not be enough to create a whole new explosion.
Instead, Earth would maintain its core and orbit, remaining as a planet in our solar system.
It’s those living on Earth who would be at risk.
If the debris managed to all pass Earth without hitting us, then it would carry on traveling, and we’d be safe and sound.
This all sounds pretty ominous, but don’t worry. We’d actually probably be fine. This is because Mars is relatively small compared to the likes of Jupiter.
Jupiter is so big that its bits of debris would have a higher chance of colliding with Earth if it exploded.
Luckily, Mars is much smaller, so the debris is smaller; thus, so are the chances of it colliding with Earth.
If Mars were to explode, lots of energy would be released from the planet’s core, including gamma rays.
These gamma rays could reach Earth pretty quickly.
Gamma rays are very dangerous. They can penetrate through any material, including bones and teeth. Just by knowing this, it’s clear that the devastation gamma rays would inflict on our planet would be terrible.
Again, another very unlikely consequence as the rays would probably miss Earth.
Impact on Science
Now, as you’ve realized from above, if Mars exploded, we’d have big fish to fry.
But it is worth mentioning that our scientific investigations into Mars would change forever.
Mars has been the planet that humans have perhaps investigated and explored the most. The more we investigate this mysterious planet, the more questions arise for us to answer.
It’s been a fantastically exciting journey, with long-term goals actually involving putting people on Mars.
If Mars exploded, that goal would never be achieved. In fact, our investigation of Mars will change forever.
We’ll no longer be learning about it as a planetary system or exploring its potential uses. Instead, we’d be investigating why the hell it exploded. That is if we survived the explosion.
Can Earth Survive Without Mars?
Earth could survive without Mars. Our gravitational relationship with the rest of the universe would hardly change. In fact, we’d probably be safer without Mars existing.
We can survive without investigating Mars. The universe is a big place, rich with potential for exploration.
Also, if Mars were destroyed, our gravitational relationship with other objects in the universe would only shift slightly. We’d hardly notice the difference.
Mars doesn’t provide us with any resources or with any safety. So, its absence wouldn’t threaten us as we don’t rely on it at all.
The amazing truth is that we’d actually have higher chances of survival without Mars.
You see, an asteroid belt is located between Mars and Jupiter. Sometimes the orbit of this asteroid belt is disrupted for whatever reason.
The consequence is that sometimes asteroids get knocked out of their orbit and can travel wayward.
Sometimes these asteroids can travel toward Mars. When they do, Mars’s gravity protects it by slingshotting the asteroids away.
Sometimes the asteroids are slung in the direction of Earth.
Now clearly, no asteroid has hit Earth recently, so don’t worry.
However, if Mars exploded and was absent forever, then it would no longer be able to sling asteroids in our direction.
Which would mean we were, in fact, safer!
What Would Happen To The Solar System If Mars Exploded?
If Mars exploded, much of the solar system would remain untouched. Only objects that the debris and gamma radiation collided with would see devastating destruction upon impact. There would also be very little change between objects with regard to their gravitational relationships.
Ok. Mars has exploded. What happens now to the rest of the solar system?
Just like Earth, other objects are at threat of being hit by loose bits of debris that are now traveling away from the explosion’s central point towards different directions in the universe.
First on the hit list would be Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos. As these moons are the closest objects to the planet, they would be the first hit by the exploded debris traveling at immensely high velocities.
Once the moons have been clattered, more debris would rocket off further afield in the solar system.
Would other planets be hit? Well, it could happen. But the chances are relatively slim. Space is a big place!
It would basically be a case of the luck of the draw. Any planets or objects hit by debris would be severely damaged or maybe even destroyed, such would the force be.
It’s also worth noting that some planets may have to adjust their gravitational balance. Objects in the universe have gravitational relationships with one another.
So, if one object is drastically changed or removed, say through an explosion, then the gravitational relationship it has with other objects will change.
Scientists believe that Mars’ explosion and disappearance would have very little impact on gravitational relationships.
Mars could explode…but it probably won’t.
Thankfully not, as the consequences could be awful for anyone caught in the way of loose debris or gamma rays.
If Earth did survive, we’d do just fine without Mars. However, we can forget about there being life on it!
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Hey, my name is Jeremy. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.