What if an asteroid crashes near you?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LONDON - What if a giant asteroid crashed into the area near your home? Scientists have come up with an ‘impact effects calculator’ that lets you work out what would happen if an asteroid hits our planet.

Users can type in the size of their hypothetical asteroid, its speed, what it will hit, its angle of entry and even how far they are from the blast, the Daily Mail reported.

For those who cannot visualise how big their asteroid could be, there is even a helpful drop-down menu of pre-set sizes which include ’school bus’, ‘humpback whale’, ‘Empire State Building’, all the way up to the ominous-sounding ’small planet’.

The website’s algorithms then calculate what the effects of the asteroid’s impact would be on the earth’s axis, whether there would be a fireball - and what chance of surviving any bystanders would have.

It even tells you how far you should be from the impact to avoid being buried in the material thrown up from any crater that is left behind.

The website, called Impact Earth!, is the brainchild of scientists from Purdue University in the US and Imperial College London.

It is an update of a calculator which was originally devised in 2004 and based on scientifically-sound calculations.

The new version includes extra elements such as the height of resulting tsunami waves and it comes with an entertaining animation that shows the asteroid hurtling from space towards the earth.

The asteroid is identical to the Hartley 2 comet that NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft flew by last week.

Imperial College’s Gareth Collins told the BBC: “One of the major new additions is the estimates for tsunami wave height at a given distance away from an ocean impact.”

On average, an object about the size of a car will enter the earth’s atmosphere once a year, producing a spectacular fireball in the sky.

An asteroid collision with the earth is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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