NASA scientists believe doomsday asteroid impacts much more frequent and destructive than prior estimates

Space Asteroid Strike
This image made available by NOIRLab shows a plume of dust and debris blasted from the surface of the asteroid Dimorphos by NASA’s DART spacecraft after it impacted on Sept. 26, 2022, captured by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab’s SOAR telescope in Chile. The expanding, comet-like tail is more than 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) long. (Teddy Kareta, Matthew Knight/NOIRLab via AP) AP

NASA scientists believe doomsday asteroid impacts much more frequent and destructive than prior estimates

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NASA scientists believe doomsday asteroid impacts on Earth are much more frequent and destructive than previously thought.

Last week, James Garvin, the chief scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, presented his new findings at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. His paper, titled “Reassessing the past million years of neo impact cratering on Earth via high resolution digital topography,” theorized that massive asteroid impacts on Earth may have been “larger and more energetic” than previously thought.

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During his presentation, Garvin quipped that if another asteroid that matched the dimensions of previous impacts hit Earth, “it would be in the range of serious crap happening,” the Daily Mail reported.

The study, using satellite imaging, found larger rings around the crash sites. The rings suggest that the impacts were much more destructive than previously thought. If the findings are correct, the scale of the meteor impacts was equivalent to 400,000 to 730,000 megatons, more than enough to “blow-off part of the Earth’s atmosphere and distribute impact glasses globally.”

In comparison, the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated, the Soviet Tsar Bomba, had a yield of 50 megatons, 10 times that of all the munitions expended during World War II. The asteroids studied by Garvin’s team are 8,000 to 14,000 times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba.

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The other revealing finding pertained to the frequency of the impacts; it was previously estimated that such doomsday impacts occurred every 600,000 to 700,000 years. The new study found that four of these impacts had occurred within a span of 1 million years, and two occurred within 70,000 years of each other.

However, the findings had some doubters. Anna Losiak, a crater researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences, told Science.org that she was skeptical that the rings around the impact craters were themselves impact craters.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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