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Thread: Space and Guns

  1. #1 Space and Guns 
    Forum Freshman Martian_Monkey's Avatar
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    I am not sure whether this question should be posted in Space or in Physics as it involves elements of both.

    I was reading that Russian Cosmonauts use to have guns on their Space station, incase there was a problem, they could prevent themselves from suffering.

    This made me wonder how a modern gun would preform in certain environments we might encounter as we travel space. As far as space its self, I assume that a bullet would actually work and travel better, no friction and would probably keep going until it hit something. But then would the gun powder ignite in the vacuum o space? No probably not. But lets lake that out of the equation or a minute. If we were able to fire a modern gun on say the surface of Mars, would there be any noticable difference in the bullets impact velocity or how far it would go? What about a planet like Venus, with extremly high atmospheric pressure?


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  3. #2 Re: Space and Guns 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    I assume that a bullet would actually work and travel better, no friction and would probably keep going until it hit something.
    Correct - and there is no need to add the probably. Newton's First Law of Motion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    But then would the gun powder ignite in the vacuum o space?
    Gunpowder, or in modern weapons smokeless powder, contains I believe its own oxidant, so this should not be a problem. (There is a management training exercise in which teams have to rank the value of a range of items to take with them when they are stranded on the surface of the moon many miles from safety. The 'official' answer was provided by NASA. They placed a handgun some way from the bottom on the basis that you could use the reaction from firing it to propel you a short distance! So they obviously saw no problem with the gun working in vacuum.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    If we were able to fire a modern gun on say the surface of Mars, would there be any noticable difference in the bullets impact velocity or how far it would go?
    It would go considerably further for two reasons. 1) Lower gravity 2) Less air resistance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    What about a planet like Venus, with extremly high atmospheric pressure?
    It would slow up comparatively rapidly and so its range would be much reduced. (If the bullets were traditional Wild West lead items they would be melting before you could fire them.
    :? )


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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman Martian_Monkey's Avatar
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    Thanks Ophiolite,

    What a very thorough answer. While I realize that there is the possibility of having laser weapons in space, we will probably never have the laser blasters or cannons like in Star Wars. I have also seen a few sci-fi movies where the characters had very modern looking guns and I wondered if this would be more accurate than a Stars Wars type laser weapon.

    But it looks like, any planet or scenario that a human could possibly survive in, a bullet would work.

    It is inevitable after all, whether they are outlawed or not. As man colonizes space, there will be guns.
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