Our beloved blue planet gets pelted with debris from space all the time but, since most of it burns up or break apart in the atmosphere, it’s usually not a problem. Even when one does make it to the ground, they are rarely much larger than a small rock, minimizing the damage they’re capable of inflicting.
Then, of course, there is that once-in-an-eon occasion where something very very large makes it through intact, and this can really do some damage. Fortunately, such hits are extremely rare, but they are worth noting, if only to serve as reminders of the power of the stars to undo the normal routine here on Earth, with little more than a few minutes’ warning. So where — and when — did these monsters hit? Let’s take a look at the geological records, and see.
10. Barringer Crater, Arizona, USA
Already the home of the Grand Canyon, around 50,000 years ago Arizona decided to add yet another tourist attraction, when a 160-foot diameter meteorite landed in the northern desert, leaving an impact crater nearly a mile wide and 600 feet deep. Scientists believe the meteorite that caused the crater was traveling at over 28,000 miles per hour when it struck, causing an explosion about 150 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Some scientists initially rejected the idea that the crater was caused by a meteor when no meteorite was found, but the modern consensus is that the rock melted in the explosion, spreading a mist of molten nickel and iron across the surrounding landscape.
Though at a mile across, the crater is not all that large, the lack of erosion makes it an especially impressive site. In fact, it’s one of the few meteor craters that actually looks like what it is, making it a first-class tourist attraction — precisely as the Universe intended.