Asteroid collisions with Earth could be much more catastrophic than scientists thought

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
The fall of even a small asteroid can lead to destruction that humanity does not expect

The consequences of asteroid impacts on the Earth are likely to be much more catastrophic than scientists previously thought. The fact is that our planet hides the scars caused by such space incidents well. Such miscalculations can be a real problem for humanity.

This opinion was expressed by James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre. According to Science Alert, the scientist believes that erroneous calculations can lead to the fact that an asteroid impact will cause much greater destruction than expected, which could turn into a tragedy.

If he's right, the probability of a collision with something nasty could be higher than current estimates suggest.

During the presentation of his research, Garvin eloquently explained that miscalculations will lead to "serious crap happening".

The most famous of all meteorite impacts, which led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, occurred 66 million years ago, punching a hole in the earth's crust at the site of the modern Yucatan Peninsula. It was a 10-kilometre asteroid, similar to those that fell to Earth about 100 million years ago.

However, as the scientist noted, even much smaller asteroids, if they hit the Earth, could raise enough dust to cover the planet and potentially lead to years of famine. According to some estimates, kilometre-long asteroids hit the Earth on average every 600,000 years, plus or minus.

It is virtually impossible to calculate the exact date for such a collision, and scientists are trying to keep an eye on the sky to avoid potential danger from space, but it is likely that Earth studies can also provide us with the necessary data.

We are talking about craters left by asteroid impacts, which can tell us a lot about what happened in the past. The only problem is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to "read" these craters due to the dynamic winds, water, and tectonic processes that are constantly occurring on the Earth's surface.

Garvin and his team examined new high-resolution satellite imagery to study the remnants of some of the largest impact craters formed over the past million years.

The analysis showed that some of these craters have faint rims beyond what was thought to be their outer edges. This actually makes them larger than previously thought.

For example, Garvin said, a crater in Kazakhstan called Zhamanshin was formed by an asteroid impact measuring 200-400 metres and approximately 12-14 kilometres wide. The collision occurred about 90,000 years ago - the "youngest" impact that could potentially lead to a nuclear winter on Earth.

However, according to the new analysis, the results of this collision were likely much larger. The original crater, according to new estimates, was about 30 kilometres across.

Vredefort Crater on a satellite image

The diameters of the rims of the other three large craters studied by Garvin's team have also "grown". All of them have doubled or tripled in size.

However, the researchers do not rule out that their conclusions may be somewhat premature. It is quite possible that what they consider to be new crater rings are just debris that was ejected during the impact and crumbled back. Scientists also do not rule out the possibility that they are dealing with phantom data.

Nevertheless, Garvin is convinced that it is important to conduct such research so that humanity is better prepared for a possible catastrophe.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told about what NASA scientists learned after ramming the Dimorphos asteroid and why everything went wrong.

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