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Thursday, September 9, 2021

CONTEXT: Moonfall—Do It Yourself Guide

There is a teaser trailer out for a movie scheduled for release in February 2022, Moonfall, which looks to be a particularly cheesy and absurd techno-disaster-thriller flick, even by the standards of the genre. See for yourself.

The premise is that the Moon has, for some reason, fallen out of its orbit and is closely approaching the Earth—in 2022. (I guess it really takes something to beat 2020 and 2021.) Anyway, as opposed to tidal disruption of the Moon when it crosses the Roche limit (which, for the Earth, is 6378 km), ocean tides scrubbing clean all the continents, etc., what seems to happen involves crashing cars, explosions, and for some screwball reason, the NASA space shuttle coming back from museums to fly again. How bad can it be? Well, the credits include Donald Sutherland.

Just how did the Moon lose enough orbital velocity to come close to the Earth? I'm not saying it's aliens, but from the trailer, that's the way to bet. And why would aliens expend enough energy to de-orbit the Moon to wreak havoc on the Earth rather than the more economical approach I used in Trek's End? I guess we'll have to wait and see which, for me, means until it comes around on Netflix.

Here, Scott Manley does the math on bringing the Moon down to Earth, and simulates the event in Universe Sandbox. For aspiring cosmic supervillains, he explains how, if you're patient, you can do it with half the delta-v by using a bi-elliptic transfer.

Posted at September 9, 2021 12:20