We’ve all seen the movies about asteroids colliding with our planet, we’ve also read the news about near misses of asteroids flying close to us. Of course, many of us know that it is thought an asteroid hitting earth finished off the dinosaurs, in fact, this impact is thought to have wiped out 80% of all life on our planet, allowing mammals and eventually humans to thrive. But what would actually happen if an asteroid hit us? Check out these 8 facts about an asteroid armageddon event…
1. The asteroid itself
The dinosaur-killing asteroid itself is probably the most famous of asteroids to hit our planet, so what if a exact twin of this asteroid hit us tomorrow? It is thought that the asteroid was 10km in diameter and created a crater of around 180km wide in the earth’s crust. Of course, it wasn’t just the hole, the energy released by the impact vaporised the asteroid itself instantly and then wiped out most of life on earth. But even this event would not blow our planet into pieces, nor would it instantly kill all life on earth, there would be some survivors both animal and human alike to repopulate the planet.
2. Before the asteroids impact
NASA has given some advice on what do if a large asteroid does crash into us, it simply reads ‘pray’! In reality, we would probably get a few months of warning as the asteroid itself would be very easy to spot. A few months is not a long time at all to dig bunkers or make people safe, or at this point in time, we do not have the technology to deflect or change the asteroid’s course. The time would need to be spent making safe places for as many of us as possible either by going underground or underwater as far from the crash zone as possible!
3. Final Approach
Of course, the whole world would be in a state of panic even though for most of the time the sky would remain as it is now. Only 24 hours or so before impact would we actually see the asteroid in the sky (all be it at night and not very big). Around 3 hours before impact we may feel the full impact of what is about to happen with a bright object in the sky even in twilight (If you see an asteroid in the day it is probably only minutes from impact). As the asteroid gets closer it would remain silent even as it enters the atmosphere at many times the speed of sound.
When the asteroid finally hits the earth a force of 100 trillion tons of TNT or more than a billion Hiroshima bombs would be imposed on us. The earth’s crust is instantly vaporised and a fireball four times the size of the sun is created, grass, trees and anything within 1200km will be burnt instantly, followed by an immense air blast that would flatten buildings within 1000km. The sound of the impact would be way more than our ears can stand, however, if you are still alive, sorry but it doesn’t end here….
Your only real chance of surviving all this is if you are on the other side of the planet to the impact zone, yet even here you will hear and indeed feel the impact. Damage will still be inflicted upon to structures more than 5000km away from the collision zone. Anything ejected from the impact will be shot miles into the air heating our atmosphere by some 1500 degrees centigrade. This would cause forest fires and the sky would darken as the suns light is blocked by the dust. Most people will need to stay in the safety bunkers for some time.
6. A different world awaits
The many vaporised minerals in the atmosphere isn’t good news at all, even though the atmosphere would start to cool down over time some minerals would combine with water to produce acid rain. The worldwide temperature would drop dramatically changing ecosystems and combined with the acid rain most of our plant life would be destroyed. Without plants, the herbivores would die and then carnivores would die. This is what experts think happened to the dinosaurs, however, maybe us humans would be able to survive all this?
7. Life after the event
The dinosaurs took time to die out, but they did not have shelters, food preservation, high tech gadgets and machinery or TV! If we did have months (or years) of warning surviving could be an option for some of us, society would not be the same of course, we could use seed stores to re-grow food and maybe even produce meat again. Or maybe like the dinosaurs, we will not survive and a new dominant species would start to thrive and outdo us to become the planets new dominant species!
8. Don’t Panic!
Asteroids come in many forms and sizes, an asteroid the size of a house would create energy the same as the Hiroshima bomb demolishing a city for example, but this wouldn’t be a cataclysmic event. Many scientists think that we are pretty safe for the foreseeable future with impacts similar to the dinosaur-killing asteroid only happening once every hundred million years or so… Phew.