Thursday, February 14, 2013

Asteroid Impacts on Google Maps

Tomorrow Asteroid 2012 DA14 will narrowly miss hitting the Earth. The asteroid will pass so close to the Earth that it will actually pass underneath our communications satellites. The asteroid is about 160 feet across, which isn't particularly large, but if it did hit the Earth (I repeat - it won't) it would cause a huge amount of damage.

You can view the Meteor Crater in Arizona on Google Maps Street View. The Arizona meteor crater was caused by an asteroid which was almost exactly the same size as Asteroid 2012 DA14. The crater is 4,000 ft in diameter and 570 ft deep, and using Google Maps you can actually take a virtually walk right to the center of the crater.

If you want to know what kind of damage an asteroid this size would do to your town then chack out the Impact Calculator. This app allows you to view the potential size of an impact crater, caused by different sized asteroids, at different locations around the world.

The app uses the Google Earth browser plug-in to give you a 3d view of the potential size of an impact crater caused by different types of asteroid. 

If this has whetted your appetite to learn more about asteroids then have a look at Asterank's 3d Asteroid Orbit Space Simulation.

The simulation is an amazing WebGL application that shows a view of our solar system with over 580,000 asteroids mapped. It is possible to rotate, zoom and pan the simulation. It is also possible to refine the asteroids shown by most valuable and most accessible (just in case you have plans to get into a little asteroid mining).

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