Asteroid Collision With The Earth

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Asteroid Collision With The Earth



To investigate the effects of an asteroid impact on Earth through a

small-scale simulation. I shall be measuring the depth of the crater

caused by a steel ball bearing being dropped from different heights

into sand.

I shall be dropping a steel ball into sand to simulate an asteroid

collision, because the asteroid would be roughly spherical and have a

high density, like the steel ball. The sand will react similarly to

how the Earth would if impacted on.


An asteroid, also called minor planet, or planetoid, is any one of a

host of small rocky astronomical objects found primarily between the

orbits of Mars and Jupiter. By the 1990s, more than 7,000 asteroids

had been observed at two or more oppositions, and 5,000 of them had

been assigned numbers, which is done as soon as accurate orbital

elements have been determined.

Asteroids whose orbits cross that of the Earth on a nearly continuous

basis are called Apollo asteroids. About 91 of these asteroids have

definitely been identified. Some astronomers would like to mount a

full-scale search for such asteroids, partly out of a fear that they

may collide with the Earth.

Collisions with larger asteroids are rare, but smaller ones are more

numerous. It is estimated that a few asteroids with a diameter of 1 km

(0.6 mile) may collide with the Earth within a period of 1,000,000

years. If an asteroid of this size were to collide with the Earth, it

would produce an explosion with as much force as several hydrogen


A short-term disturbance in the world's climate could result, and a

collision in the ocean could be catastrophic. Some investigators

believe that the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other land and

marine animals at the end of the Cretaceous Period (about 65 million

years ago) was triggered by the impact just north of the Yucatan

Peninsula of an asteroid or meteorite measuring some 10 km (6 miles)

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