As NASA and ESA move to gauge humanity’s ability deflect asteroids that might threaten to collide with our planet, a pair of authors have provided a rather explicit description of what might happen if one of those space rocks actually makes it to the surface, the Daily Express reports.
In their book titled "What Does Rain Smell Like?", meteorologists Simon King and Clare Nasir explain that the impact of an asteroid with a diameter ranging from 25 meters to about 1 kilometer would cause "damage on a local scale", whereas a collision with a rock bigger than that would lead to destruction "on a global level".
"The most lethal repercussions from a large asteroid impact would be wind blasts and shock waves. A spike in air pressure could rupture internal organs and the blast of wind would hurl bodies and flatten buildings and forests", the meteorologists explained, adding that other devastating consequences would include “intense heat, flying debris, tsunamis, seismic shaking and annihilation from the direct impact and cratering".
The authors noted, however, that asteroids, just like other “large objects in space", are subject to gravitational forces and therefore have their own orbits, which makes their trajectories “relatively predictable”.
"Cataloguing Near Earth Objects (NEOs) is a titanic task, space is very crowded, and it seems to be getting even more crowded with every decade. Mapping NEOs against a background of other debris orbiting in space could be described as finding a needle in a haystack, but astrophysicists have made great strides to do just that", they note.