MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: If an asteriod hit the earth...

Date: Mon Jun 1 21:48:59 1998
Posted By: Samuel Conway, Senior Scientist, Message Pharmaceuticals, Aston, PA
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 894800123.As

Well, it sort of depends on what you mean by "better off."

An asteroid that lands in the ocean will cause tremendous tidal surges
that will wipe out most major Coastal cities.

An asteroid that strikes on land will cause devastating seismic tremors
that will travel to the coast, and THEN set off tremendous tidal
surges that will wipe out most major Coastal cities.  Additionally,
one that strikes on land is much more likely to throw up a massive plume
of debris that will cause the "nuclear winter" effect.

If you ask me, it's six of one and a half-dozen of the other!

As for our planet, it is much, MUCH better to be hit by an asteroid than
by a comet.  Most asteroids are relatively small  -- heck, tiny meteors
burn up in our atmosphere all the time.  Even the big asteroids are only
going to be a few miles across.  Comets, on the other hand, are *huge*,
and if one hit the earth, well, there probably would be quite a bit more

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