Most of the asteroids that survive the encounter with Earth’s atmosphere eventually plunge into the water simply because the ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth. But large space rocks sometimes hit the ground. That was the case 50,000 years ago when the iron asteroid plunged into North America and left a hole in what is now northern Arizona.
The Meteor Crater (also known as the Barringer Meteor Crater) is located between Flagstaff and Winslow on the Colorado Plateau, Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8.This area was pictured on May 16, 2021.
Despite being 50,000 years old, the crater is relatively small and well preserved compared to other craters.As a result, scientists have studied the site extensively to learn about the crater process ̵1; how. Working on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system and about modern dangers posed by asteroid impacts.
“A similar sized impact event today can destroy a city the size of Kansas City,” said David Crink, a crater expert at the Institute of the Moon and Planets. Meteor Crater is 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) long and At about 600 feet (180 meters) deep, the size of the asteroid that caused the impact was uncertain, likely in the range of 100 to 170 feet (30 to 50 meters), but it had to be large enough to drill 175 million rocks. Metric tons
The wide field of view in the above image gives the impression of the crater in the context of the surrounding area. This section of the Colorado Plateau drains water from Anderson Mesa (bottom left) and crosses the surface that flows into the Little Colorado River near Winslow.The red blotches near the crater are the red Moenkopi sandstone amid the characteristic light brown Kaibab limestone. Volcanic topography is part of a wider landscape, including Anderson Mesa and the West and East Sunset Mountains.
Notice how the crater rim and the outer area are much lighter in tan. This is the debris gushing out from the crater, mainly composed of limestone kaibab and Kokonino sandstone. Also note that the crater is not exactly circular, it is almost square, according to Kring.This is because pre-existing flaws in the rock cause it to fade further in four directions when affected. These cracks in the northwest-southeast and northwest-southwest line formed when the Colorado Plateau was raised from below sea level to current mile-high altitudes.
Landscapes don’t always look like this. When an asteroid hits humans, it doesn’t even reach North America The jungle-covered hillside was supposed to be home to mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths, now the crater stands in the middle of a bushy desert.
Kring continues to host NASA-sponsored field training and research programs at Meteor Crater, where graduate students practice the impact of craters on Earth, the Moon, Mars and other planets. He also trains astronauts. “So they are familiar with impacted planetary surfaces,” Kring said. “For example, NASA astronaut Artemis will land in shock-prone terrain around the Moon’s South Pole.”
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey, story by Kathryn Hansen.