Recently, the world has been captivated by the tremendous potential for asteroid strikes to cause global destruction. In this article, we shed light on some of the most destructive asteroid strikes in history, illustrating the importance of developing preventative measures that can protect us from future impacts.
Beginning with the asteroid strike that changed the face of the earth, #1 on the list is the famous Chicxulub impact. Happening some 66 million years ago, the Chicxulub asteroid is thought to have been the cause of the annihilation of the 75% of life on Earth. With an estimated size of 8-22 km, the asteroid released energy equal to 10 billion Hiroshima bombs when it struck the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.
#2 on the list is the Tunguska event of 1908. On the 30th of June, the world’s attention turned to the Siberian taiga when a 130 m asteroid exploded approximately 8 kilometers above the ground. Estimated to be equivalent to 15-20 megatons, the Tunguska blast was over 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, creating a zone of burnt trees some 2,000 km2 in size.
Coming in at #3 is the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. With an estimated size of 20 m and impacting the atmosphere with a speed of 20 kilometers per second, the object released energy estimated to be at least 500 kilotons. The blast caused dozens of injuries and caused significant damage over the region and continues to provide a great example for readiness against such an event.
#4 on our list is a more recent asteroid strike that happened in 2018 in Indonesia. On December 24 of that year, an asteroid struck a mountain in Java with an estimated 50 Kilotons. The impact created a two-meter-wide crater, which was documented by the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia at the time.
Finally, #5 on the list is an asteroid explosion that happened over a part of Botswana in 2018. The suspected asteroid was estimated to be the size of a bus, exploding in the atmosphere with 10 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.
These five events highlight the amazing destructive capabilities that asteroids can have and the importance of putting preventative measures in place. While we can do nothing to prevent the impacts from the past, being ready and prepared to handle future asteroid strikes is something that can bring a sense of safety to the world.