The Asteroid Launcher simulator allows you to destroy your hometown
Today, astronomers are tracking more than 2,200 potentially dangerous ones asteroids greater than 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) wide, in Earth’s orbit. Fortunately, it’s rare for someone to come so close as to pose a real threat. But that also means anyone interested in what would happen if such a large space rock hit our planet would have to settle for the dino kill. Impact of asteroid Chixculub 66 million years ago.
Enter Asteroid launcher (opens in new tab), a new web app that gives asteroid impact enthusiasts a chance to answer some of their questions. Our friends at PC Gamer called the app “morbidly informative” for users.
Asteroid Launcher easy to use. You can choose from different compositions of space rock – asteroids made of iron, rock, carbon or gold, or a comet – and select the diameter (up to a mile), impact speed and impact angle. Then select Ground Zero on a map anywhere in the world and press ‘Launch Asteroid’.
There’s more than one way an asteroid impact can kill. Asteroid Launcher captures several: not just the size of the crater, but also that of the fireball, shock wave, destructive winds, and earthquake, all of which would disperse on impact.
So suppose I drop an asteroid similar to 99942 Apophis, slated to pass (but not hit) Earth in 2029, just above downtown Los Angeles. (Sorry Los Angeles)
According to Asteroid Launcher, that impact would leave a crater 7.5 kilometers wide and the fireball would burn most of the city, killing more than 5.5 million people. The ensuing shock wave would rupture people’s eardrums as far as Pomona or Santa Clarita, 27 miles away. Tornado-force winds would knock down trees as far as San Bernardino or Ventura, 67 miles away. And a magnitude 6.9 earthquake would shake the ground as far as Bakersfield or San Diego, 120 miles away.
Asteroid Launcher is the work of coder Neil Agarwhal, who based the app on the academic (opens in new tab) work (opens in new tab) aimed at calculating the effects of an asteroid impact. It resembles Nuke map (opens in new tab)a website created by science historian Alex Wellerstein in 2012 that simulates the effects of dropping a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world.
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