The Impact of an Asteroid on Earth Essays

1216 Words 5 Pages
The Impact of an Asteroid on Earth

Asteroids sling through space, celestial debris of diverse origins, leftovers from the formation of the solar system, broken offshoots of parental asteroids or comets that have lost their glow. But if an asteroid were to smash into Earth, the result would mean a global catastrophe and life on our Planet could come to an end. The explosion would approach that of a million megatons of TNT- sixteen hundred times greater than the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested (Barnes-Svarney 234). "Asteroid" is Greek for "starlike". They were given this name because early telescopes could see them only as points of light. The asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, contains tens of
…show more content…
The explosion of the object creates the kinetic energy equivalent to about 50 to 100 kilotons of TNT. The Category 2 impact ranges from 100 meter 5 to 1 kilometer and strike the Earth an average of about once every 5000 years. One of the most frightening scenarios is based on Category 3 impacts. These impactors, ranging from 1 kilometer to 5 kilometers in diameter and traveling at speeds of tens of kilometers per second, were more prolific in early days of the solar system, as seen with the many larger impact craters seen on the Moon, Mercury, Mars and Venus (Morrison 36). In July 1994 Jupiter experienced the crash of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. After fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 exploded in Jupiter's atmosphere they produced huge fireballs of hot gas and dust that rose high above the planet's clouds. Jupiter's atmosphere was literally blown away from above the impact site and hot gas and dust were funneled up to altitudes of 3,500 kilometers. But in Jupiter's strong gravity, whatever went up had to come back down. So for about twenty minutes after each impact, the dust-laden plumes fell back into the atmosphere, reentering with a horrendous release of energy. The heat from this reentry was so intense it was easily detected from Earth (Morrison 37). Although no known asteroids are currently on a potential collision course with Earth, 108 are nevertheless worrisome enough in the long term for the Minor Planet

Related Documents