English 111, Professor Ryan Barbour
10 December 1997
Meteoroids and Comets and Their Impact on Our Planet
How much do we cognize about our planet and its natural history? Why did the great dinosaurs vanish? All of the replies are now get downing to come to light. Scientist have speculated that Earth? s history and development may hold been more violent than we first thought. If you can, image a big ball of stone hurtling through infinite heading toward Earth on a hit class and watching it come through the ambiance. You are one measure closer to understanding the extinction of the dinosaurs. In outer infinite, there are one million millions of meteors and comets, with the bulk of them bing in the chief belt between Mars and Jupiter. These balls of stone are hurtling their manner through infinite, and about every ten-billion old ages, one really big one hits the Earth. Such a Judgment Day asteroid could badly interrupt life on Earth, non merely for humanity, but for the other species of workss, fish, birds, and animate beings.
Since we have known that dinosaurs one time roamed this planet, we have asked where they went and why they all of a sudden passed off. Scientists have come up with the hypothesis that dinosaurs were killed by the reverberations of a monolithic meteor? s hitting the planet. Jon Erickson supports this thought in his book Target Earth when he adds, & # 8220 ; The mammoth hit was so annihilating that it killed three-fourthss of all known species, including the dinosaurs & # 8221 ; ( 148 ) . They found that this great sum of affair hitting the Earth at three times the velocity of sound produced a plum cloud that enshrouded the planet with dust. This dust didn? t allow any sunshine to make the surface of Earth. As a consequence, the workss had no manner to turn since they were non able to photosynthesize. This produced a reaction that dismantled the nutrient concatenation of the planet. The herbivores, without any workss to eat, died off. Then the carnivores died without the meat of the herbivores to back up them. The lone animate beings that were left were little and much like the mouse. Mammals so inherited the Earth from the dinosaurs. One can state that the meek inherited the Earth from the strong through this procedure of devastation.
When a meteor the size of a little town hits the planet, the Earth goes into a province of helter-skelter devastation. The Earth begins to pealing like a bell and 80 per centum of the population becomes for good difficult of hearing. Jon Erickson depicts what would go on when a big asteroid collides with Earth, & # 8220 ; It sets the planet pealing like a elephantine bell. The Jarring could bring on strong temblors and powerful volcanic eruptions. The impact could do the Earth? s magnetic field to toss over. A little displacement in the Earth? s axis can throw us into a ice age & # 8221 ; ( 71 ) . Whatever was at the epicentre of impact would be destroyed without a hint left of its anterior being. Then a daze moving ridge would go across the Earth, and everyone would hear and experience that impact of the meteor. Following, stones that had been thrown into the air would get down to set down every bit far as 6,000 stat mis off from the epicentre. The stones would be on fire due to the heat of the detonation and their reentry into the ambiance. Buildings would be destroyed by the missiles that landed on them. Fires would devour what the falling dust did non destruct. Peoples would panic, and order as we know it would be put to an terminal. Volcanoes would get down to break out due to the emphasis put on the Continental home bases, and S would slop into the air. If a comet or a meteor landed in the ocean, upon impact, & # 8220 ; The comet would bring forth a conelike molded drape of H2O, sprinkling one million millions of dozenss of saltwater high into the ambiance & # 8221 ; ( Erickson 77 ) . The ambiance would be so full of H2O that clouds would organize over the full planet. The clouds would be similar to thunderstorm clouds. The midst clouds would throw Earth into darkness. For those who survived the beginning of the lunacy, there would be something similar to a atomic winter to look frontward to. Acerate leaf to state, non many people would last the dearth and the winter to follow. These events have the possible to switch nature? s class and even to destruct the full planet? s ability to possess life. The hypothesis that the scientists came up with was that little mammals survived the apocalypse and go the inheritors of the universe.
What are the possibilities of a heavenly organic structure hitting our planet? William R. Newcott tries to do clearer the opportunities of Earth? s being hit by a heavenly organic structure in National Geographic? s article, & # 8220 ; The Age of Comets & # 8221 ; when he states,
Imagine yourself atop the Empire State Building with the universe? s most powerful bowling-ball cannon, capable of making the general locality of Washington, D.C. You are indiscriminately firing bowling balls as a lone Volkswagen bug circles the Washington Beltway. It is non likely that you will hit that Beetle anytime shortly, but one of these yearss, one of these millenaries, you will necessarily oppress one vintage compact auto ( 105-106 ) .
We live in a cosmic shot gallery, yet during our life-time, there? s approximately a 1-in-10,000 opportunity that Earth will be hit by something large plenty to pass over out harvests and humankind worldwide. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan comment in their book Comet that, & # 8220 ; We may ne’er hold to confront such catastrophes, but it would be suicidally foolish to disregard the possibilities that a comet may hit our planet & # 8221 ; ( 338 ) . Out in infinite, there may be one comet with its sights set on us. The inquiry now is when will it hit, and how can we halt it?
First we need to see how we will observe this Judgment Day comet. We must hold a sensing system in topographic point around the flight of our planet? s orbit. This sensing system would necessitate to be backed up by independent uranologists who look deep out into infinite. These independent uranologists have ever be the premier people to happen new comets. For illustration, Shoemaker-Levy 9 was discovered by two recreational uranologists who happened to be taking images of the dark sky. After we have detected the heavenly object, we should seek to strike hard it off its class. This can be done merely by rushing up the comet, or purchase decelerating it down. Thus the comet would go through before Earth? s orbit or after Earth? s orbit. In rule, to jostle an asteroid onto a different flight is a simpler affair. Donald Cox explains in his book, Doomsday Asteroid, the expression to debar an traveling object off from us when he states, & # 8220 ; A regulation of pollex in interplanetary pilotage is that the sum you can maneuver your investigation toward or off from your finish is the merchandise of the mid-course rectification speed you apply multiplied by the clip staying before you arrive at your finish & # 8221 ; ( 149 ) . Another means to debar a heavenly object would be to hit it with a atomic missile. This is simpler said so done. The figure of H bombs needed to zap an object, even a kilometre in diameter, which is about 3/5 of a stat mi, would transcend the figure of H bombs of all time made! Besides, H and atomic bombs react otherwise in infinite than they do on Earth. Therefore, we can govern this option out.
Comets have hit planets in our solar system during our life clip. For Example, Shoemaker-Levy 9 was a comet that had been pulled into Jupiter? s orbit by its monolithic sum of gravitation. The gravitation of Jupiter fragmented the comet. The fragments so began to plump into Jupiter at 60 kilometres a 2nd, which is about 36 stat mis a 2nd. The energy that was released approached the equivalent of 100,000 megatons. It produced a plum cloud that was about the size of the Earth, and that lasted for a month. The fact that a comet hit Jupiter in our life-time, is grounds that it excessively can go on to us. Carl Sagan states this fact when he says, & # 8220 ; We see that comets can hit the nearby Jupiter during our life-times. And we know that they have hit universes throughout the solar system during its full history & # 8221 ; ( comet 279 ) . Tunguska besides was one such topographic point where a comet did hit the Earth.
We are left with a batch of unreciprocated inquiries. How will we face this menace? Will we be able to happen this Judgment Day comet in clip? We now know that such a doomsday asteroid did badly disrupt life on Earth 1000000s of old ages ago, but without this break, humanity may hold ne’er evolved. This makes the comet both Godhead and destroyer of life on our planet. We as worlds will go on to look at comets and meteors with the same curiousness all coevalss before had. Their beauty is genuinely heavenly, yet we most non bury the power that these comets posses to destruct our universe. Carl Sagan points out this fact when he mentions, & # 8220 ; There is something fazing about these countless lives being snuffed out, their hereditary line rendered meaningless. Naturally, we wonder if we may be following & # 8221 ; ( 268 ) .
Cox, Donald. and James Chester. Doomsday Asteroid can we Survive? New York: Prometheas Books, 1996.
Erickson, Jon. Target Earth Asteroids Collisions Past and Future. PA: Tab Books, 1997.
Newcott, William. & # 8220 ; The Age of Comets & # 8221 ; . National Geographic. December 1997: 96-109.
Sagan, Carl and Ann Drayan. Comet. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.