Jaw-dropping facts about asteroids

Don’t worry, you’re safe, we’re talking about the exciting film coming to our 360 Show Dome on February 13 -  Asteroid: Mission Extreme.

The film, narrated by Hollywood star Sigourney Weaver, takes you on a journey 65 million years in the making to discover how asteroids are both a danger and an opportunity for everyone here on planet Earth.

The danger, of course, lies in the possibility of a catastrophic collision - one that has fascinated and terrified humans for generations and become the subject of many a disaster movie. But just how likely is that those stories will come true?

The opportunity lies in the idea that asteroids could be stepping stones to other worlds, allowing us to penetrate the deepest realms of the universe. The challenges are enormous, but the idea could ultimately save humankind.

So, to whet your appetite ahead of our awesome asteroid adventure, here are some jaw-dropping facts about these amazing ancient space rocks.

  • Asteroids are leftovers from the birth of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago
  • Most asteroids stay put in the asteroid belt, a sort of “cosmic highway” orbiting the sun, between Jupiter and Mars
  • Studies of Earth's history indicate that about once every 5,000 years or so on average an object the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage
  • A meteoroid (a piece of asteroid) the size of a car falls into the Earth’s atmosphere on average once every year. This creates a bright fireball effect, but it usually burns up in the atmosphere before it reaches the ground
  • are currently over 600,000 known asteroids in our solar system
  • Astronomer William Herschel first coined the word asteroid, which means ‘star like’ in 1802
  • An asteroid 25 metres (about 82 feet) or smaller in size will burn up upon entering Earth’s atmosphere
    Anything larger, you’d be able see it in the sky – and it will leave a mark
  • Anything bigger than 1-2 kilometres (1-1 1/2 miles) will cause problems for Earth. These are the ones scientists monitor so we have a long lead time to prepare for a direct hit
  • Scientists believe it was an asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs and most life on the planet 65 million years ago
  • The asteroid scientists suspect of killing the dinosaurs was only about 10 kilometres (over 6 miles) wide.
  • The hole it left–65 million years ago–known as the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, is about 180 kilometers (about 111 miles) wide
  • Ceres and Vesta are two of the largest asteroids in the belt. Ceres, considered a dwarf planet, is about as big across as Texas, and Vesta the state of Arizona

We’re awestruck by these facts. We don’t know about you but, even though we do love dinosaurs here at Dynamic Earth, we’re pretty glad they’re not still roaming planet Earth! Maybe asteroids aren’t so scary after all...

Come and find out more about asteroids - we look forward to seeing you in the Show Dome. You can book tickets here.

2 Feb 2016


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