Hitting the Sun is HARD

By | January 21, 2020


Nuclear waste. We’ve got a lot of it, it’ll
stay dangerous for tens of thousands of years, and we don’t really know what to do with it.
So why don’t we just send it into space and crash it into the sun? Well, first, it’s really dangerous to put
nuclear waste on a rocket, since rockets have a tendency to occasionally explode while launching,
making any nuclear-waste-filled exploding rocket into a really big dirty bomb. But the bigger reason is that it’s actually
really really hard to *get* to the sun. It might seem like it should be easy, since the
sun’s gravity is always pulling us towards it. But we’re also orbiting really fast sideways
around the sun, so that as we fall towards it, we miss it. In order to crash _into_ the sun, you have
to slow down so that you’re _not_ going sideways really fast. The earth – and everything on
it – is moving around the sun at around 30 kilometers per second, so you’d have to accelerate
to a speed of 30kilometers per second backwards away from the earth in order to stop moving
around the sun and do a sun dive. And you have to slow down all the way – with even
a little bit of sideways speed, you’ll miss the sun and whip around, not crashing. Ok, so a speed of 30 kilometers per second
is really fast, but just how fast? Well, from earths’s orbit, you only need to be going
_11_ kilometers per second faster than the earth in order to escape from the entire solar
system. Which means that it’s much, much harder to crash into the sun than to escape it altogether.
Let me say that again: it takes less acceleration to get to _other_ stars than it does to get
to our own sun. Crazy. But it gets weirder: because the gravity from
an object is stronger the closer you are to it, the smaller your orbit is, the faster
your orbital speed. For example, Mercury goes around the sun at a speed one and a half times
faster than earth, while Pluto goes only a sixth as fast. And that means it’s actually
way harder to crash into the sun from Mercury than from the earth, even though you’re closer,
because you’d have to accelerate to a speed of 48 kilometers per second backwards instead
of 30. And it’s way _easier_ to crash into the sun from Pluto, since you only have to
accelerate to a speed of five kilometers per second backwards. In fact, if you’re trying to crash into the
sun just using rockets, it’s far more efficient to first go to the outer solar system where
your speed is much lower, then do a second burn to counteract that slow orbital speed
and allow you to fall directly into the sun. And that’s precisely why early mission trajectories
for NASA’s spacecraft to study the sun proposed going out to Jupiter first – to make it
easier to slow down and get to the sun. Ultimately they decided instead to use repeated flyby’s
of Venus to slow down the probe and save on rocket fuel getting to the sun. But how gravity assists work is a topic for
another day. Speaking of which – how long would a day be on the sun?

100 thoughts on “Hitting the Sun is HARD

  1. Rahul gaikwad Post author

    Why can't just the rocket de-accelerate from 30m/s horizontal speed to zero and then fall into sun

    Reply
  2. sn tn Post author

    bullshit. you don't have to completely cancel out your orbital velocity. You only need to cancel it out to an extent which your periapsis is close enough that the outer layers of sun burn or destroy the rocket. dont spread fake shit motherfucker

    Reply
  3. Ryan Lin Post author

    I think you meant escape the Earth at 11kms/s, not the solar system.

    Reply
  4. Sri Ampojwalam Post author

    Lol how long is a day on the sun. I have the answer. Its 1/0 hours long.

    Reply
  5. Finn R Post author

    if it hit earth wouldn't it burn up and poison the atmosphere

    Reply
  6. Jefit Nick Post author

    1:21
    Bich it is false you Need to be much mich faster in Order to Lesbe the Solar System but 11m/s for Earth

    Reply
  7. Jon Smith Post author

    To the people in the comments saying to go to the sun at night because it is cooler; you clearly do not understand physics. If you go to the sun at night it is going to be dark so how are you going to navigate??
    THINK people!

    Reply
  8. Nickolas Humphery Post author

    I wonder how much XP these planets get for every gravity assist they do

    Reply
  9. Fun With Oliver Post author

    39 km per second?
    100 times more than that is the speed of light!

    Reply
  10. Eli McClellan Post author

    "How long would a day be on the sun?" Hey, Vsause. Michael here…

    Reply
  11. Geetha Varadharajan Post author

    cant we just move toward the sun directly instead of falling into it

    Reply
  12. daiseechain Post author

    Then don’t put it on a rocket
    Build a really large railgun and do some math to aim behind the sun and the bullet will have the sideways force from the earth and it will be dragged into the sun

    Reply
  13. Dartian Post author

    Why launch it into the sun? Why not just load it into the rocket and fire it into the middle of deep space?

    Reply
  14. CanadaMMA Post author

    Honestly, we should be switching over to as much nuclear power as we can. As scary as nuclear waste is… and it IS… it's nothing compared to CO2. Complaining about nuclear waste at this point is like telling someone not to eat bacon, while you drink bleach. If nuclear can help us bridge the gap until renewables are ready to take over, it's worth it.

    Reply
  15. Marc Rover Post author

    "How long would a day be on the sun?" Hmm, idk, but one thing I DO know, it would definitely be SUNday…:D Yuk Yuk.

    Reply
  16. Jordan Karim Post author

    As a nuclear engineer, the first 10 seconds of this video provide a ton of disinformation. I get that's not the purpose of this video in particular, but let me clear some things up.

    1. "Nuclear waste" is better termed "spent fuel", because there's still a LOT of useful energy there. Current American laws prohibit reprocessing, but this fuel could be recycled with existing technology and used again, reducing the quantity that ultimately has to be stored.
    2. There's not nearly as much of this spent fuel as you might suppose. The amount produced since 1950 for all of America would cover a football field to a depth of less than 10 yards. That's a manageable amount, IF there's a plan in place (sadly, right now, there's not a good plan).
    3. We know what to do with it. We have simply lacked the political will to make it happen. What you do with it is seal it in a container far away from human habitation and bury it. Radiation follows the inverse square law, which means that if you double the distance you halve the radiation. So you just have to make sure the radioactive material doesn't travel, say by water contamination, and you're all set. For a great example of how this could work in practice, check out Finland's waste facility: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/science/nuclear-reactor-waste-finland.html. They will seal up the fuel in copper containers. They will go deep underground in an area that has little to no water filtration and hasn't for millions of years, dig long corridors, then bury the containers in holes in those corridors. The corridors themselves will be backfilled with more clay and the whole thing ultimately sealed up. The spent fuel can merrily and safely decay away.

    Reply
  17. Zachary Chandler Post author

    You're a peach! Thanks for the quick and informative video.

    Reply
  18. Wuanslm Post author

    so, can we shoot the waste into deep space instead then?

    Reply
  19. Tigercup Post author

    One day on any planet = 1 full rotation on its axis. So the same would be true of the sun, which means that days would be longer at the poles.
    And we thought Earth timezones were hard.

    Reply
  20. coltin engle Post author

    That sounds a lot more like magnetic polarities resisting eachother than 'gravity.'

    Reply
  21. Geetha Varadharajan Post author

    Can you not just accelerate towards the sun directly and then either hit venus or mercury or the sun

    Reply
  22. luke666808g Post author

    Shoot all the nuclear waste into Jupiter.

    Reply
  23. Tomasz Kantoch Post author

    Good Job. I will do it in Kerbal Space Program . I'm going to Eeloo orbit and then try to approach sun 😀

    Reply
  24. Thanos Attorney At Law Post author

    So why not just send it off into Space for other people to deal with!

    Reply
  25. Agent J Post author

    How long would a day be on the sun?

    How deep is a mirage?

    You really need a perspective for the question to even make sense. An irrational expectation to argue is child play.

    Reply
  26. The TNTsheep Post author

    A 'day' in terms of 24h on the sun would be the same length in your own perspective but becuz of the huge gravity it would seem much longer for observers on Earth.

    In terms of when the sun sets… 😁👍 You might have to wait till a supernova. Which is a very…..
    Long……….
    ………
    ….time……….

    Reply
  27. Commander Clone Post author

    Why don't we just eat all the nuclear waste? Easier to do.
    Just would cost the lives of thousands of people. I mean people are pretty EXPENDABLE.

    Reply
  28. Glow Berth Post author

    well, if its easier to dump our stuff on jupiter… why not just do that instead?

    accidentally ignites Jupiter

    We are all doomed!!!

    Reply
  29. Documenter haha Post author

    The real question is how fast does the sun spin.

    Reply
  30. Døminic Nelsøn Post author

    How many day are on the sun? Until the sun dies.

    Reply
  31. glitch gamer Post author

    How long would be a day be on sun i mean…i ..i i …i am speechless

    Reply
  32. Boba Incorporated TM Post author

    how long is a day in a sun?
    Answer: 0^0÷10 thats how long we live in the sun.

    Reply
  33. duckface Post author

    can't we just burn all of the waste in the earth's mantle?

    Reply
  34. GawkyOrpheus510 Post author

    you cant mesure days on the sun as days are reletive to the body of which you are mesureing

    Reply
  35. _ Muppelpuppel _ Post author

    Guess what
    We r making a small orbit of the sun

    Reply
  36. 誰でもいたくないのさ Post author

    why dont we just send all our nuclear waste to macklemore's house??

    Reply
  37. Bron _ Post author

    Nuclear waste is no longer a problem. We can reuse it with fast reactors and the product will be inert within a century

    Reply
  38. The Opulent Orange Post author

    If we can't hit our own sun, just launch it off to space where 100 million years later if will crash to some other star..

    Reply
  39. MrSparkle404 Post author

    Did a small hole, drop the stuff in and cover it up. The longer it takes to decay the better.

    Reply
  40. Luny Cipres Post author

    Well a day would be way too long on sun but if we are talking about rotation time then yeah we know that

    Reply
  41. DingbatToast Post author

    Really interesting apart from the very annoying bass playing which is louder than your voice

    Reply
  42. EuSuntNoob Post author

    If you can escape solar system easier than going to the sun, why not just throw our dump far far away?

    Reply
  43. Samuel Dickey Post author

    Who cares if the nuclear waste hits the sun or not as long as it’s flying somewhere other than on earth then problem solved right?

    Reply
  44. Erik l Post author

    Why not boost into a higher orbit (making it an eccentric ellipse) and at the aphelion eliminate your velocity?

    Reply
  45. Chris John Caparas Post author

    Can't we force ourselves by building a rocket at max speed then try and barely hit the edge of the sun considering that it is massive?

    Reply
  46. illlanoize23 Post author

    Well the sun goes to sleep every 12 hours so 1 day is 12 hours where the duck is my Nobel prize

    Reply
  47. Johannes Stein Post author

    just walk to the horizon, wait until the sun goes down and dump all the waste in- easy

    Reply
  48. TJP443 Post author

    I want that gravity assist video, I'm gonna count what you said as a promise

    Reply
  49. Tiberian Fiend Post author

    Let's just dump all our nuclear waste on Israel. Two problems solved!

    Reply
  50. Tsits Norvel Post author

    why not send it away from the sun and program it back to the sun

    Reply
  51. Serek Taibah Post author

    well fine just dump the nuclear waste into deep space instead of the sun

    Reply
  52. cmilkau Post author

    if you can leave the solar system with 11km/s dV, then you can hit the sun with 11km/s dV, it's called double elliptic approach. That us what I was going to write while the video started to explain the very same thing 🙂

    Reply
  53. Baran Elitez Post author

    hey @minutephysics. you have to change the microphone of your host. I can hear the saliva beneath his tongue.

    Reply
  54. Alex Zetsu Post author

    Easier to go to the stars than crash into the sun…

    Reply
  55. MauLob Post author

    Why we should not hit the sun with nukes?
    Because the sun has more deadly weapons and, can technically, hold our lives hostage.

    Reply
  56. Justas Post author

    And remember: Don't launch lizards into the sun because they will come back with fire wings.

    Reply
  57. TIJEY BEG Post author

    So my dream to travel to the sun is, destroyed? 😢

    Reply
  58. ResidentEvil302 Rican215usa Post author

    A day on the sun would b the same as on earth jus by watching earth rotation idk lol

    Reply
  59. Javier D. Post author

    Yeah, but we chose to hit the sun and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!!!

    Reply
  60. Documenter haha Post author

    "it is hard to hit the sun"
    Yeah, it's only a little hard. I was able to do it, only with some simple stuff. But instead of hitting it, I destroyed it.

    In Robot 64. (Roblox game. Look it up.)

    Reply
  61. Brilliant Interlectual Post author

    "Since rockets have a tendency to occasionally explode…"
    Astronauts: Wait, what?

    Reply
  62. matthew spence Post author

    If we can bring stuff to the sun then we should bring the sun to our stuff

    Reply
  63. Rough E Post author

    So lets take the neuclear waste to pluto and then dump it to the sun… Easy.

    Reply
  64. Remarkable SeiF Post author

    Wait, it's easy to miss the sun? HOW? Why would an object be more inclined to sling shot rather than hitting it?

    Reply
  65. Blaise Freeman Post author

    "you have to slow down all the way…" If you slow down enough to achieve orbital decay would your rocket spiral in toward the sun without hitting the Earth? If our orbit were a perfect circle that would seem like a straightforward solution with a minimal energy requirement. But with a parabolic orbit it would be harder to ensure there's no collisions with Earth, right?

    Reply
  66. ferkeap Post author

    The first statement is False.

    It a commodity, a high value product with centuries of energy production. Especially if we want to transmutate the weapons stockpile.

    Reply
  67. FortNikitaBullion Post author

    Then why not send it out of the solar system? It will no longer be radioactive if it were to crash into another habitable planet. Or send it into Jupiter to burn up in the atmosphere there.

    Reply
  68. Szgerle Post author

    Man the fearmongering about nuclear waste is so fucking boring. It can be effortlessly sequestered away in geologically inert salt deposits several miles deep. In fact, that is what we have been doing for decades. This is an issue that has been solved ages ago, but envirotards like to agonize over it, like it makes them deep or thoughtful or something.

    Reply
  69. ́MrDislike Neumann Post author

    “How long would a day be on the sun?”

    Depending on where you are on the sun:
    About 26 Days. On the poles more, less on the equator.

    Reply

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