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Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.

Some scientists say that an asteroid is going to hit the earth 30 years from now. Is this true? Can we protect ourselves by sending nuclear weapons into space to destroy the asteroid? How big does a comet/asteroid have to be in order to destroy the Earth? What's the biggest a comet/asteroid could be and still burn up in our atmosphere?

There has been talk that the asteroid 1997XF11 will crash into the Earth in the year 2028. This asteroid poses no threat to the planet Earth in the next century. But, it will pass by the Earth over and over again in the next centuries, so it is worth knowing what we could do if it ever gets too close!

Right now, we have the technology to blow up a comet or asteroid coming towards the Earth. We would need some advanced notice (10 years would be a nice minimum notice). If we were to discover an object coming towards the Earth with only 1-2 years notice before impact, our technologies might not be good enough. So the best plan right now is to continue searching for Near Earth Objects so that we will know where these asteroids and comets are.

An object that's about the length of an American football field could make it through the atmosphere. Bodies longer than 5 football fields would certainly come through the atmosphere and would cause global disaster. The only thing we can compare such an impact to is that of nuclear war. Fortunately, impacts by such large bodies are extremely rare.


Submitted by Amber (Fargo, North Dakota, USA)
Submitted by Ann (Toronto, Canada)
Submitted by Phillip (Ottawa, Canada)
Submitted by Sam (Aaland Islands, Finland)
(June 29, 1998)



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Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA