Asteroid Impacts

Artist's Concept of an asteroid impacting earth (83kb)

This beautiful artistic concept of an asteroid impacting the earth was obtained courtesy of NASA and the artist Don Davis. Impact of an asteroid this large is extremely rare.

Meteor Crater in Arizona USA (51kb)

This is a fine example of a crater produced by an impact from outer space. It is estimated to have occurred about fifty thousand years ago. Impacts of this magnitude are thought to recur on average within time scales of tens of thousands of years.

Artistic impression of asteroid friction (103kb)

This image clearly shows how much heat is generated when fast moving meteoroids and asteroids strike the earth's atmosphere. Small meteoroids completly burn up and are known as meteors or shooting stars. Larger objects, like asteroids, plough right though the atmosphere and strike the earth with great force. Image courtesy NASA and the artist Don Davis.

Artistic impression of an ocean impact (15kb)

This is an impression on an oceanic impact that would create tidal waves large enough to wipe out large coastal areas and wreak havoc on ocean-going vessels. Image courtesy of NASA and the artist Don Davis.

Artistic impression of an extinction impact (85kb)

This is an artistic impression of a major asteroid impact, like the one that may have caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. If such an large impact were to occur today life on earth would change dramatically and many species would go extinct. If humans could learn to live in space for an extended length of time, our species could be saved from extinction. Image courtesy of NASA and the artist Don Davis.

Spacecraft Images

Combined images of four asteroids (28kb)

This combined image of the asteroids Mathilde, Ida, Eros and Gaspra taken from flyby spacecraft, clearly shows the various diameters of these modest-sized solar system bodies. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of the asteroid Ida (35kb)

This is close-up of the asteroid Ida that was seen in the previous image. This image shows the small moon named Dactyl that orbits Ida. Some people think that asteroids resemble potatoes and this one is a good example of that idea. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of Gaspra from 15,900 km (45kb)

This image of Gaspra was taken by the spacecraft Galileo from a distance of 15,900 kilometers. Gaspra has an irregular shape, measuring 19 x 12 x 11 kilometers. It is classed as an S-Silicone type asteroid and it has a rotational period of 7 hours. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of Gaspra from 5,300 km (48kb)

This is Galileo's highest resolution image of Gaspra where many craters larger than 100 meters are visible. Gaspra rotates counterclockwise and from the perspective of the photograph the longest dimension of the asteroid is 18km. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image Two of Gaspra from 5,300 km (40kb)

In this image of Gaspra, taken from about the same distance as the above image, you can see 15 kilometers of the 19 kilometer diameter of Gaspra. It is a clear-filter image that was taken 10.5 minutes before closest approach. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of Mathilde from 2,400 km (19kb)

This image was taken by the NEAR spacecraft in 1997 and it has a resolution of about 300 meters. The surface area of Mathilde that is visible in this image measures 59 x 47 kilometers across and there are some large impact craters there that can be seen. The centre one, mainly in shadow, is estimated to be 10 kilometers deep, while other large impact structures are partially visible along the outer edges of the asteroid. This indicates that Mathilde, in the past, has endured some major impacts relative to its size.