MAY 15, 2016 10:49 AM PDT

Asteroid Collision: Size Really Does Matter

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The more we explore and learn about space, the more we realize how precarious our home on Earth really is. Perhaps this is why people are fascinated with the possibility of cosmic collisions that could lead to a so-called Armageddon of the future. This concern is not unfounded, especially since we have record of large impact events that have directly shaped the course of a planet's fate. Case in point, Earth's history was completely altered about 66 million years ago when a major asteroid hit Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula. Named the Chicxulub impact, scientists credited this event as the cause of the dinosaur extinction.

Fortunately for us, there is an inverse relationship between the size of the asteroid and the frequency of impact events. This means that the larger the asteroid body, the smaller the chance it has of hitting Earth. By contrast, small objects collide with Earth at much higher frequency, but we don't notice them because they cause little to no significant damage.

Even so, NASA is most interested in calculating the risks of potential future Earth impact events. Check out their list of possible hits by visiting NASA's Near Earth Object Program. And check out the video to learn the consequences of these impacts relative to the size of the asteroid!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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