Essay, Research Paper
The Day A Meteor Hits The Earth
65 million years ago, something hit the Earth. Something big. The location Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. When it hit, the Earth was left in extreme devastation. Literally tons of rock and dust were blasted high into the atmosphere blocking out the sun’s rays. According to NASA scientists, plant and animal life were virtually wiped out because the earth went into a global freeze. Except for the occasional streak of lighting, the sky was as black as death. Raging wild fires spread uncontrollably through grasslands and forests. By the end, 90% yes 90% of the worlds biomass was burned and two thirds of the worlds species was killed off. The once flourishing Earth now was a barren wasteland. As you have probably guessed, a meteor was responsible for all of this. When it hit, the meteor formed a crater 186 miles wide. This rock, 6 to 12 miles in diameter, has been linked to the extinction of dinosaurs. Now, the question comes up, will this happen to us? I am here to prove to you that it is not a matter of if this will happen, but when.
In the United States, there is a crater that in located in central Arizona. 50,000 years ago a meteor struck this site. It created a crater 300 feet deep and a little less then one mile across. NASA scientists determined the meteor was no longer than 100 feet in diameter.
In a more recent event, a huge detonation flattened an area equal to the size of Rhode Island. The year was 1908 in a remote location in Serbia called Tunguska. NASA scientists have said the explosion was even stronger then the combined atomic weapons dropped on Japan in World War II. In many countries in Western Europe, an unusual orange glow was seen in the late night sky. The area was so remote that scientists did not reach it for 19 years. When they finally reached the site they could not find a crater. The only sign that something actually happened was the extreme devastation of the deeply forested area. This was considered an unsolved mystery for many years but now computer simulations have proven the cause. A meteorite approximately 200 feet in diameter exploded in midair about 4 miles above the surface of the Earth.
In July of 1994, the comet Shoemaker Levy 9 was about to hit the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. As the comet neared the planet, Jupiter s strong gravitational field broke the comet into 21 pieces that were all less than a mile in diameter. According to Carolyn Shoemaker (the discoverer), after the broken up Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter, the surface of the planet were 25,000 times larger then the impacting bodies. Not to mention some of these craters were bigger than the diameter of the Earth!
Here are just some statistics for you to think about. A meteor about the size of the one that hit Tunguska will strike the earth an average of 1 every 100 years. A meteor the size and type that caused the Arizona crater will hit us every 50 to 75 thousand years. A meteor comparable to the one that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs will occur once every million years.
So, what exactly would happen if a meteor hit the Earth? Well, it would certainly wreak havoc on the world and cause extreme damage. Blast waves, earthquakes, tidal waves, fires and disruptions in atmospheric and weather patterns are just some. Billions of people would lose their lives. It is not a pretty picture. It would be the end of the world as we know it.
All of this has probably gotten you a little bit worried. Don t worry many scientists have come up with possible ways to stop a meteor from hitting us in the future. Some are confident that if we mounted a thermonuclear device on a really powerful rocket, we could aim it at the asteroid and successfully vaporize it. But this plan is flawed, for what if the asteroid broke into smaller pieces and made the problem even worse? Still, another theory is to nudge the body off course by using mirrors, lasers and explosives. This plan has a better chance of working, but it still might go wrong. If we are determined to find a perfect plan, then we will. But this will take time something we don t have too much of. What would happen if tomorrow you woke up and turned on the news to find out that a meteor was going to hit the Earth in 24 hours? What would you do? How would you handle it? Don t take everyday life for granted. If this killed off the dinosaurs, who do you think is next?