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Impacts: The Impending Doom Essay

3202 words - 13 pages

Impacts: The Impending Doom
Albert Mindel, Jr.
Astronomy 1002 Ref 371741

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….3
Brief History and Gene Shoemaker’s contribution

Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
Destructive power of Comets & Asteroids
Results of an impact on Earth

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8
Is enough being done to protect humanity?
Different methods and theories being explored

Appendix…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….12
Photos of impact crates, and techniques to deflect incoming objects

Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..15

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com, he states; “The Tunguska event may have exploded above the surface of the earth, but it exploded with the force of 15 megatons of TNT.” One megaton is a unit of explosive force equal to one million metric tons. The explosion knocked over 80 million trees covering an area of 2,150 square km (1,336 square miles); luckily the event occurred over a sparsely populated area. The bombs used by the United States against Japan to end World War II were only a fraction (21 Kilotons = .021 megatons) as strong. There were no man made weapons in existence then capable unleashing this amount of energy, so what was responsible for this unexplained occurrence? Some scientists believe that an asteroid was responsible for the destruction at Tunguska, still very little is known about the events of June 30, 1908, partly because of its remote location, and partly because of the secretive government which rules Russia. The capability or likelihood that an asteroid or comet could ever impact earth has long been the source of debate among the scientific community.
The modern day pioneer in asteroids and comet impacts on Earth was Eugene Merle Shoemaker, (1928-197) born in Los Angeles, California graduate from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena at the age of 19. Shoemaker was able to accomplish this not only because of his intelligence, but because the United States government mandated that during the war, students attending universities would do so on a year round basis, in other words no summers vacations. One year later after writing a thesis on “Petrology of Precambrian Metaphoric Rocks” he earned his master’s degree. Landing a job with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) sparked Gene’s interest in the moon. Gene often dream of traveling to the moon, as he felt what better scientist than a geologist to examine its contents, believing that craters would open the door to his dreams of setting foot where no man had before. His studies would encompass the relative role of asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions in forming lunar craters.
A visit to Meteor Crater located in Arizona, ignited the idea that both it and the craters on the moon were caused by asteroid impacts. Still employed by the USGS, he was assigned to study the craters created by small nuclear explosions under the Yucca Flats in Nevada. The comparisons between craters created by nuclear explosions and the lunar craters created by asteroid strikes had begun. Gene became so enthralled in his quest that he actually earned a Ph. D in 1960, from Princeton after writing a thesis on Meteor Craters.
1960 is the same year Shoemaker along with his wife and mother went on a trip to Southern Germany with the purpose of visiting the Ries Basin, a fifteen mile wide depression which scientist claim was formed by volcanic activities. The primary reason for the visit was to find evidence to support Shoemaker’s theory that the Ries Basin was an impact crater not a...

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