How to Survive a Meteor Strike, According To Science


In our day to day lives, sometimes it’s hard to remember
that we live on a planet that’s just a tiny speck in
the vastness of space. And, that as we sit here, we’re
vulnerable to asteroid strikes. They’re big, they’re fast, and they could really mess up
whatever they smash into. Remember what happened
to the dinosaurs? Nothing good. Survival wasn’t easy after the asteroid
that struck Earth 65 million years ago. Is it possible to survive an asteroid strike? Well, there is some good news, There are about 600,000 asteroids
shooting through our solar system. Of these, about 200 of them have a
diameter bigger than 100 km (62 miles). Asteroids are made of rock,
or metal, or a combination of both. Most asteroids orbit the sun
between Jupiter and Mars in an area called the Asteroid Belt. Many scientists currently theorize
that asteroids are Jupiter’s fault. You see, the asteroids were supposed
to gravitate together to form a planet. But Jupiter’s gravity was too
strong for them to do it. If they were to combine
to form a planet, in a process called accretion, the asteroid planet
would be fairly small, about half the size of Earth’s moon. Some asteroids are comets that have
lost their ice along their journey. All that’s left of these
ancient comets is rock. When a chunk of metal or
rock breaks off of an asteroid, It’s called a meteoroid, and on average, a meteoroid
about the size of a car falls into Earth’s atmosphere every year. It turns into a cool, or terrifying fireball, depending on how close you are. Luckily, most meteoroids burn up
before they reach the ground. We’re not always lucky, though. An asteroid about 150 meters wide exploded over Siberia and
caused a lot of damage to an area with a radius of
hundreds of kilometers (100s of miles). This was called the Tunguska Effect, as it occured near the Tunguska
river in Russia in 1908. It wiped out 2,000 square km
(772 miles) of forest, exploding before it even hit the ground. Imagine the damage a
larger asteroid might cause, one that made contact with the Earth. The Tunguska area had the good
fortune of having zero human casualties, likely because it’s so sparsely populated. An explosion this big could have
completely destroyed a big city. Recently, scientists have studied
other such events, such as an asteroid impact that happened 800,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. This was a large enough explosion
to cause debris and dust to be spread all over Earth’s surface. Interestingly though, there was no crater, which would imply a Tunguska Event-
like explosion above the ground. The aftermath of this asteroid was
enough to block out the sun for years. The kilometer-sized asteroid
certainly affected us, but was hardly an extinction-level event. Both Tunguska and the Southeast
Asian asteroid give us hope. Our early human ancestors largely
survived these massive strikes, so modern humans with our
ever-improving technology and intelligence have an even
greater chance of surviving a huge asteroid exploding over us. Chances are, if an asteroid
enters our atmosphere, humans will survive just fine, according to Science.

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