Meteorites are constantly hitting Earth. They usually end up in the water or leave only small craters and a little steam. But in movies and books, the world goes down when a piece of stone falls from the sky. Let’s find out How dangerous are meteorites?

In 2007, on September 16, a meteorite fell near an Andean village in Peru. It left a crater 30 meters wide. Suddenly, the people in the area started suffering from mysterious illnesses as the acrid fumes were rising from the crater. Scientists say that sulfur and arsenic could be dissolved in it and might be the reason for nausea.

The vapors that hit the residents of the village of Carancas caused great panic even though the meteorite impact itself was not a real danger. In the middle of a big city, it could have been devastating. But where he fell, the only thing it could have met was a farmer who was on his way back to the village.

Are meteorites dangerous
Flickr @jsjgeology

Scientists explain meteorites as pieces of bigger space rock that does not burn up completely when it enters the earth’s atmosphere but falls on the earth as the size of a boulder. They are called meteoroids if they are in outer space or before entering the earth’s atmosphere. If they enter the earth’s atmosphere but burn up completely, they are called meteors. And if they reach the earth’s surface with partial burns, they are called meteorites.

Giant meteorite caused dinosaurs to die out

The immediate vicinity of the impact point in Peru, the area, the country, the continent, can only be endangered if such a hit is caused by a meteorite with a much larger diameter. Ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times as large as that in Peru. Global damage such as earthquakes or Tsunami is only possible by meteorites with a diameter of several kilometers. The dinosaurs are believed to have been extinct as a result of exactly such a crash 65 million years ago. Scientists assume that the meteorite had a diameter of about ten kilometers.

The impact probably caused a tremendous amount of rubble and other material to be whirled up into the atmosphere. This dust covered the earth blocking the sun, the temperatures had dropped rapidly. the Earth’s climate had changed which proved fatal for the dinosaurs as they could no longer adapt to the changing environment.

Numerous boulders with diameters of up to 1000 kilometers circle our solar system. Is it dangerous? These meteoroids and asteroids are in fixed orbits, most of which are far away. If a chunk takes a course towards the earth, it usually burns up completely or partially when it enters the earth’s atmosphere or breaks into several parts.

Why meteorites are dangerous
Image Source – Wikimedia Commons

NASA monitors the largest chunks

However, fatal deviations of the celestial bodies from their orbit are possible. Should a meteoroid or asteroid get too close to the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, it could direct the misfire into a new orbit which might be straight to Earth.

Also Read – How Would We Die In Space?

An event of the magnitude of dinosaur death is very unlikely. It only happens every 100 million years. Statistically speaking, there are still 35 million years left. Large asteroids with a diameter of more than one kilometer that circle near the Earth are also monitored by the US space agency Nasa. Should such an asteroid actually go wrong, stargazers can calculate months and months in advance whether and when it will hit Earth. However, the system is too imprecise to predict the continent or even the country in which the meteorite could fall. If they make a mistake by half an hour, the earth might turn uninhabitable for many millions of people.

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