After watching Armageddon (1998), I could not understand how the NASA scientists knew that a nuclear explosion in the asteroid would split it into two halves which will take a trajectory circumventing the Earth. In reality a blast can create any amount of varying size particles. Some of which could have landed upon Earth.

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    Erm, because NASA is full of smart guys and supercomputers?
    – Valorum
    Mar 24, 2015 at 23:28
  • They read the script, and it said it would? I thought half the nonsense in that film was that they could scan for a fault line at a million miles away, but it was barreling too fast to deflect at that range (you'd think if they could hit Russia with an ICBM they could tell it how to hit the side of Texas. Er, a texas-sized something.)
    – Radhil
    Mar 24, 2015 at 23:28
  • @N.Soong Why did you remove the other part of my question where I am suggesting that deflecting the asteroid might have worked.
    – bubble
    Mar 24, 2015 at 23:34
  • Actually, they didn't know it was going to do it. They assumed it would split in two if they could get a nuke buried deep enough on a fault line. The quote from the script reads: "set a fire cracker off in your open palm, you get a third degree burn. Close your fist, It'll do some serious damage. If we can get a nuke deep in one of the asteroid's fault lines, she'll split in two, like a diamond.". The rest was all hoping and praying ... one of the two worked. Mar 24, 2015 at 23:35
  • @Paulster2 And the fault line was perfectly aligned with earth and the asteroid was all without turbulence and spin? And there was only one fault line?
    – bubble
    Mar 24, 2015 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


The script is pretty clear on this. There's a fault-line running down the middle of the meteor. Their plan is to drill into it, then, when the meteor is aligned along its axis, detonate the nuke, splitting the object into two halves. Note that the timing is key.

Harry : From all of your intel, the deepest fault line is here. This is
my sweet spot. If I can get a clean hole in there, She'll blow in half....

Golden : ...and the two pieces will slide right past us. You cannot shatter it. Getting hit with 20 smaller asteroids is as bad as one big one. You have to drill, plant the nuke, lift off, and detonate -- all before the asteroid reaches this

(demonstrates position)

You have eight hours. Remember it. You must detonate by this point or the two halves will hit us.

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    And yes, I'm thoroughly aware how dumb this is.
    – Valorum
    Mar 24, 2015 at 23:46
  • 3
    But @Richard, it's not dumb, it's in the script! You know those four little words can solve any movie question! Mar 25, 2015 at 0:40

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