Killed, grilled, buried! Scary Asteroid impact turns living things on Earth into charcoal

Can an asteroid turn living organisms into charcoal? This new study has something interesting to say about asteroid impact on Earth. Read here.

| Updated on: Sep 12 2022, 19:54 IST
This asteroid is worth $10,000 Quadrillion
16 Psyche
1/6 hereas other asteroids are generally made up of ice or rocks, this unique asteroid is made up of nickel, which is one of the building blocks of the solar system. One of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System, the 16 Psyche asteroid is made up of gold, nickel and iron deposits and is supposedly worth more than Earth's economy. The asteroid is worth nearly $10,000 Quadrillion. (NASA)
Asteroid and Earth
2/6 The Psyche Mission will also help scientists to study and understand iron cores, a previously unexplored building block of planet formation. The 16 Psyche asteroid mission is a part of NASA's Discovery missions. (Pixabay)
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3/6 The findings of this mission could enable scientists to develop a way of using asteroids as resources. Asteroids could come in handy when building structures in space, such as bases on other planets or even the Moon. Due to their 85 percent metal structure, they could be an excellent source of minerals. It is even said that the raw materials extracted from asteroids could even exceed the metal reserves present on Earth. (NASA)
4/6 The mission has been in the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations since March 2021. Since the launch window is limited, scientists and engineers have worked round the clock in order to finish the spacecraft's assembly in time. However, due to unexpected software issues, the mission has now been delayed and pushed to 2023. (NASA)
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5/6 NASA said, "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11. The mission team needs more time to ensure that the software will function properly in flight." (NASA)
6/6 In order to reach the asteroid, the spacecraft will fly by Mars for a gravity assist in May 2023 and, in early 2026, orbit around asteroid Psyche in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA says that the Psyche mission is expected to launch in both 2023 and 2024, but due to the uncertainties, the exact dates of these potential launch periods are yet to be determined. (NASA)
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Asteroid impact turns living organisms into charcoal, a new study claimed. (Pixabay)

We have heard countless stories in regard to how asteroids can be catastrophic. The end of the dinosaur era was due to an asteroid strike and same can happen to humans. Now, the latest study has revealed that asteroid impact can even turn living things into charcoal. It shed more light on the last dramatic moment of some microbes which can tell us about the serious consequences of space rock strikes on Earth in the past. The study says that the bodies of microorganisms covered in charcoal demonstrates the dangers from even a moderate asteroid impact.

The research team took samples from the four craters in Estonia, Poland, and Canada. These craters are separated by geographical distance and thousands of years, still, the team found millimeter-to-centimeter sized pieces of charcoal mixed with the material that was formed during each of them. Anna Losiak, the lead author and member of the Institute of Geological Sciences at the Polish Academy of Sciences told that the charcoal was formed from organisms killed, grilled, and buried by the fiery asteroid.

This discovery of the ancient asteroid-battered organisms differs from the traces of the charcoal that emerged due to normal wildfires. Anna Losiak added that the charcoal formed by impact instead of wildfire was more homogeneous and points to a lower temperature of formation, while, the charcoal found in the craters was similar but not identical as it formed when the wood is intermixed with pyroclastic flows, which form from erupting volcanoes.

"This study improves our understanding of environmental effects of small impact crater formation. We will be able to more precisely determine the size and type of evacuation zone necessary," she said for an incoming asteroid impact. To follow up on the study, Losiak and her research team will plan to examine another set of small impact craters in Argentina in late September. The team is aiming at this site because "these are not only true impact craters — sites where an asteroid literally exploded when it touched the ground — but also penetration funnels." A penetration funnel is the aftermath of the impact on an asteroid which slows down while entering the atmosphere of the Earth. In such cases, many asteroids survive and hence, the temperatures and pressures experienced by the ground are much less extreme, she added.

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First Published Date: 12 Sep, 19:54 IST