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19 March 2020
Darkness, not cold, likely responsible for dinosaur-killing extinction
New research finds soot from global fires ignited by an asteroid impact could have blocked sunlight long enough to drive the mass extinction that killed most life on Earth, including the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.
17 January 2017
How darkness and cold killed the dinosaurs
Climate scientists have now reconstructed how tiny droplets of sulfuric acid formed high up in the air after a large asteroid impact 66 million years ago. The new research shows the sulfuric acid cooled Earth’s climate for years to come.
16 December 2015
Problematic asteroids could be pushed off course by gentle thrusts
When faced with the threat of large Earth-bound asteroids, some have suggested deflecting the rocky bodies by striking them with large objects. Others prefer to nuke them. But planetary astronomer Michael Busch takes a less violent approach: he suggests we deflect dangerous asteroids without ever touching them.
Busch, an astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California, studies gravity tractors: special spacecraft designed to pull problem asteroids away from destructive trajectories and onto benign paths. He said the technology could come alive within the next decade through NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission. Busch presented his team’s research on gravity tractors at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
4 December 2015
Dinosaur-killing asteroid may have caused global algal bloom, marine extinction
The asteroid impact suspected of killing the dinosaurs may also have triggered a global algal bloom that contributed to a massive marine extinction more than 60 million years ago, according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid 10 kilometers (six miles) in diameter slammed into the Yucatan peninsula, creating a crater 180 kilometers (110 miles) across and 20 kilometers (12 miles) deep. The Chicxulub impact sent tiny spheres of material up into the atmosphere where they became super-heated. Approximately 1023 of these microscopic spherules were ejected and re-entered the atmosphere to create a global carpet of silica glass 3-millimeters (0.19-inches) thick, known geologically as the Cretaceous-Paleogene layer.
19 December 2014
Computer models simulate asteroid impacts
An asteroid impact 100 miles (170 kilometers) off the coast of Maryland would send waves up to 50 feet (15 meters) high onto the shore an hour later and massive flooding would occur three hours after impact, according to a new computer simulation of hypothetical asteroid impacts. The model is the first of its kind and federal agencies have used it to assess potential hazards arising from such impacts in an effort to increase U.S. emergency preparedness, planning and management, the scientists say.