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You May Fire When Ready (A.K.A. Planetary Annihilation)

Justin Gallagher


For my Final blog of the 1st quarter, I decided to include some planetary destruction. One might say it is "Planetary Annihilation". So I present...

Planetary Annihilation

Planetary Annihilation is a real-time strategy computer game developed by Uber Entertainment, whose staff include several industry veterans who worked on Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander.

Throughout my childhood, I loved strategy games due to the almost infinite possible outcomes, and the idea that one move could be the downfall of your empire. I enjoyed the Supreme Commander Series as a kid. The Idea that Literally, you could control a thousand plus units at one time, and obliterate the enemy.

When I saw Planetary Annihilation, and who made it, I had to get it. But enough boring childhood memories that I cherish. LETS START PHYS-X-ING!!!!!

One of the coolest concepts about Planetary Annihilation is the idea that not only can you leave the starting planet to go to others, but you can attach massive rockets to the planets and force them to crash into other planets. Here, take a look at the trailer which uses actual game footage...

In the trailer, you can see how one can move planets to devastate the solar system. Lets say we wanted to move the Moon 1 meter with the use of four massive thrusters in only 10 seconds. What would the force be. Well the Moon has a mass of 7.34767309 × 10^22 kilograms. For this time interval, it would have an acceleration of .01m/s^2. That means that out of four thrusters, each one would have to exert at least 7.347 x 10^20 Newtons. This is insane, imagine what force it would take to move the moon into a collision coarse with the earth in only three minutes. Even Though mostly improbable, this is still a very cool aspect of the game.

Even though smashing planets is fun, the real destruction comes from the "Annihilaser", a massive moon sized laser that can destroy entire planets in a matter of seconds. Sound a bit familiar? To do this, one has to travel to the Metal Planet and build five massive Catalyst which guide the massive energy through the planet and harness it to a single point.


Let us use the Death Star from Star Wars to help us with this project because the output power of the Annihilaser is unknown. To obliterate a planet, we first must decide what to destroy. This planet is going to be modeled after earth with the exception that it is a solid planet. It is then possible to use the gravitational binding energy of the target planet to estimate the amount of energy required to be supplied to the Death Star's laser beam in order to destroy it. The energy required to destroy the planet in question is 2.25 x 10^32 J. However, the destruction of large planets such as Jupiter can require much larger energy demands. We can estimate this energy to be 2 x 10^36 J

Since the Death Star outputs energy equal to several main-sequence stars, even if the actual composition of Earth is used in equation, the value yielded is only a few orders of magnitudes larger and the Death Star can still easily afford to output that energy due to its tremendous power source. However as mentioned above Jupiter requires much greater energy demands which would put considerable strain on the Death Star. To destroy a planet like Jupiter it would probably have to divert all remaining power from all essential systems and life support, which is not necessarily possible.

If you have not guess by now, which would be quite sad, this laser was clearly inspired by the Death Star from Star Wars. If you have not seen Star Wars, shame on you, but here is a video of the Death Star Destroying a planet, with an added bonus.

If you have seen all of the six Star Wars movies, you would have found that that bonus was to watch Jar Jar Binks get annihilated by the Death Star, which is a great thing to see.

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