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What if an asteroid hit Earth? Is it the workings of a science fiction movie crew? If that is all it is then what about the dozens of impact craters here on Earth? An asteroid hitting Earth is the stuff of science fact…and it will happen again. It happens on a monthly basis. The average asteroid that hits the Earth only makes a great light show as it burns up in the atmosphere. What about a larger one? What if an asteroid hits Earth and it was large enough to survive the atmosphere and our feeble attempts to blow it apart?
What if an asteroid hit Earth should not be the question on your mind. How would anything survive the impact is a more appropriate question. An asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago in what is now known as the Yucatan Peninsula. That impact equaled 10 million times the destructive power of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in WWII. That asteroid threw enough dirt and ash into the air to choke out the sun for months. The effects of the initial impact destroyed all life within 200 kilometers. The global warming that ensued eventually killed 90% of all life on this planet. The larger plant eating dinosaurs died first, then the big meat eaters, on down the line to the tiniest parasite that lived off of them.
What if an asteroid hit Earth today? There are near Earth asteroids that NASA keeps an eye that are large enough to destroy all of the life on Earth. Two of them will come close to us, soon. One in 2028 and the other in 2036. Neither should impact the Earth, but what if the planet’s gravitational pull was strong enough to bring one of them into a collision course? No matter where it hits it would kill millions of people immediately. The dust and ash thrown into the air would interfere with air travel and radio signals. The magnetic anomaly would interrupt sea travel. Soon all vegetation would wither and die taking a large part of our food source with it. We would be dependent on genetically engineered foods to survive. The very few of us who lived long enough to see a supply of that food grow or be produced would be barely clinging to life.
What if an asteroid hit Earth has been the subject of movies and science fiction books for the better part of a century now. All that we know for sure is that an asteroid impact will have the power to destroy life on this planet, as we know it.
Here is what NASA has to say about an asteroid hitting Earth. We have talked about asteroids on several occasions here on UniverseToday.com. Here and here are some of our other articles on the subject. AstronomyCast.com offers a great episode on craters.
NASA: What are Asteroids?