In most sci-fi movies, when a cosmic object tries to crash on Earth, there are usually some nerdy scientists who have built some pretty massive laser system that can be deployed in space to target and destroy whatever it is on Earth’s course isn’t it – problem solved, everyone is happy ever after.
But have you ever wondered what could potentially happen should a comet collide with our planet, Unless you’re not reading science textbooks, some impacts in the ancient past cost the Dinosaurs their lives with the species wiped out of the planet.
This showed how dangerous an impact would be on Earth if one ever escaped the radar of space agencies who are constantly on the lookout for any object coming towards Earth.
Back in 2016, there were reports about the Delta Aquarid meteor shower which are usually good-looking when spotted in the night sky forming the shooting stars that not so many of us have had the privilege of experiencing.
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But while dust-size bits of comets sizzling through our atmosphere put on a pretty awesome show, the consequences of Earth confronting one of these comets head-on could actually be pretty disastrous.
It’s not something that you should be worried about, of course. NASA is on the lookout for any cosmic objects on a crash course with our planet, and it’s found that the chances of us colliding with a comet or asteroid anytime soon are pretty low.
It’s still interesting to think about, though. What would happen if one of these ancient, celestial chunks of ice, dust, and rock smacked into our planet?
The 16-mile-wide Swift-Tuttle comet — the progenitor of the Perseid meteor shower —hurtles through space at about 36 miles per second, more than 150 times the speed of sound.
Now imagine a comet of this size impacting Earth at such speed. The impact would be about 300 times as much as of the asteroid which researchers believed to have wiped out the Dinosaurs – Donald Yeomans, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told LiveScience.
During a collision, the size of a comet or an asteroid isn’t the only thing that could lay Earth to ruins but even the damage would affect the planet for a pretty long period of time as the planet’s atmosphere would be destroyed with dangerous gases released to the atmosphere.
“Sulfur dioxide would initially cause cooling, and then carbon dioxide would lead to long-term warming,” LiveScience writes. “An event like this would likely cause the planet’s climate to change drastically, leading to mass extinctions around the globe.”
A comet colliding with Earth wouldn’t necessarily signal mass extinctions and the end of human civilization, though.
While a comet landing smack dab in the ocean could trigger earthquakes and tsunamis, its atmospheric effects would actually be eased by the ocean. Considering that 70% of Earth is covered in ocean, our odds aren’t terrible.
Even before such could happen, it might take a pretty long period of time and Humans might have been able to migrate easily to Mars by then or live in space or maybe in other galaxies as ambitious scientists are constantly working to get us to the next destination and make Humans a multiplanetary specie.