Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!

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)



Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

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!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

It's Asteroid Time!

Have you ever been on an Easter egg hunt? Well some people hunt for things other than eggs! NASA astronomers Robin Evans and Karl Stapelfeldt have hunted through 28,000 Hubble telescope images. What did...more

Comets

Not too long ago, many people thought that comets were a sign that something terrible was about to happen. People didn't understand about how objects in the sky moved, so the sight of a comet must have...more

Asteroids

Asteroids are small bodies that are believed to be left over from the beginning of the solar system 4,600 million years ago. They are rocky objects with strange shapes up to several hundred km across,...more

Me and my boyfriend are arguing over whether or not the Moon is round (circular like Earth). I say it is and he says it's not.

What is the diameter of the Moon in Kilometers? By how much is the Earth heavier than the Moon? How far is the Moon from the Earth? How old is the Moon? What is the internal structure of the Moon? I was...more

What Role Have Women Played in the History of the Space Program

*Please note that this page is a student project written by Nicole Turner. It was not written or edited by Windows to the Universe scientists.* From Harriet Quimby (the first licensed woman pilot,) to...more

Does wind have an effect on radio waves?

Wind does not have an effect on radio waves. Wind cannot affect radio waves because the air particles associated with wind are far too small for the radio wave to bounce off of. Radio waves can only bounce...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF