How large asteroids must be to destroy a city, state, country, or the planet | Digital Asia

How large asteroids must be to destroy a city

Scientists who study asteroids often say that Earth is drifting through a cosmic shooting gallery.(digital asia)

Some angry space rocks, like the recent Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia, are big enough to shatter windows and crumble walls. Others, like the one that caused the Tunguska Event of 1908, can flatten entire cities. A handful can trigger global extinctions, like the asteroid that smashed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago.

But how big of an asteroid does it take to damage cities, states, countries, and the planet?

On the fourth-annual World Asteroid Day (Saturday, June 30), we take a look at estimates from NASA, Purdue University’s “Impact Earth” simulator, and other sources.(digital asia)

Images in this story come from a previously published video.

Most of us go through life without thinking much about rocks from space. But even a small — and relatively frequent — asteroid can inflict great damage.(digital asia)

By numbers, most meteors are smaller than a car and burn up in the atmosphere as harmless meteors.

Any larger than that, and things start getting risky.

Some detonate into air bursts high above the ground. These explosions create shock-waves strong enough to break windows.

They can also emit enough light energy to cause a sunburn.

A house-sized meteorite can explode in Earth’s atmosphere with a force greater than the nuclear weapon the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.(digital asia)

Such a space rock could flatten most buildings within 1.5 miles of ground zero.

An asteroid the size of a 20-story building is bad news.

With the right composition, speed, and angle of attack, a rock this size might leave a wake of destruction the size of central Paris.


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