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.
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 22, 2019
Can We Grow Plants on Mars?
If we were ever to send humans to Mars for a long-term or permanent visit, then it’d be essential that we develop some sort of renewable food source....
OCT 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 22, 2019
Barn Owls Fly Without Making a Sound
When most birds take flight, their wingbeats cause a ruckus; this is typically a repetitive ‘swooshing’ noise generated by the rushing air that...
OCT 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 22, 2019
This Jumping Spider is a Cunning Predator
The fringed jumping spider, also known as ‘portia’ to some, is renowned as one of the world’s smartest spiders. Like most hunters, they e...
OCT 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 22, 2019
The Moon is Shrinking, and Here's Why
When the Moon was conceived during the formation of the solar system, it was comprised of incredibly hot material. Years’ worth of space rock impacts...
OCT 22, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 22, 2019
What do a Wing Nut and a Tennis Racket Have in Common?
In 1985 during a mission to rescue the space station Salyut-7, Soviet astronaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov observed something rather strange. A free-flowing wing...
OCT 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 22, 2019
It's True, Elephants Are Highly Intelligent Animals
If you’re ever asked what the world’s smartest animal is, then the humble elephant should certainly come to mind. These incredible beasts have...
Loading Comments...