5 Reasons We Wouldn’t Survive an Asteroid Impact

Read Time: 3 minutes

Imagine an enormous asteroid is charging toward earth — and Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck aren’t there to save us.

Would we as a species survive?

While by and large, asteroids don’t make direct impact with Earth — those that are on a collision course with it usually dissolve in the planet’s atmosphere, if they enter it at all — man has always remained interested in the prospect of a collision.

After all, scientists estimate there are more than 750,000 asteroids larger than three-fifths of a mile in diameter floating in the space between Mars and Jupiter in what’s commonly referred to as the “asteroid belt.”

It’s true that many scientists around the globe — and space hobbyists and enthusiasts, too — keep their eyes affixed toward the heavens to see what, if any, information they can glean or discoveries they can make from looking through the lens of a microscope on a starry night.

But these discoveries — and the lack thereof — also prove to show how powerless we actually are when it comes to asteroids.

Case in point? The asteroid Apophis, which is large enough to fill the Rose Bowl.

Scientists will be keeping their eyes peeled in 2029. How close the asteroid passes Earth during that year will indicate whether the asteroid will strike the planet in 2036.

The good news is scientists predict Apophis would make impact in the Pacific Ocean. The bad news is that the entire Pacific Rim would likely experience a resulting enormous tsunami if that happened.

To sum: Asteroid impacts are devastating. So if an enormous asteroid strikes Earth, here are five reasons we probably won’t make it:

1.  Asteroids can be really, really, really powerful—and they’re unpredictable.

Asteroid strikes are not uncommon. Believe it or not, 26 pieces of space rock collided with the earth between 2000 and 2013. Altogether, they exploded with a force of 600 kilotons, and none of them were detected until the last minute.

Scientists say the only reason none of those 26 impacts caused serious damage can be attributed to “blind luck.”

2.  Politicians can’t agree on anything in our own country. How could anyone expect all of the world leaders to agree on something?

So an enormous asteroid is chugging toward Earth and leaders from around the globe come together to try to devise a last-minute solution.

What are the chances these folks actually come up with a solution? Who’s going to pay for it?

For the most part, politicians move too slowly for us to actually think they’d all agree on a plan before it was too late.

3.  Even if world leaders did agree on an approach to destroy an asteroid before it hit us, they might choose an ineffective solution.

Let’s say for some magical reason all of the world’s leaders agree on an approach to dealing with the asteroid. Who’s to say they’d be right?

Politicians do not always come up with the right solutions. If they were forced to come up with a quick solution due to imminent danger, do you really trust that they’d be right?

4. Many scientists believe that dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid—and dinosaurs were enormous.

T-Rexes, stegosauruses, triceratopses, and more. All gone. All because of an asteroid hitting the Earth.

For the most part, dinosaurs were enormous. T-Rexes could weigh up to nine tons and stand 13 feet tall. If an asteroid could wipe them all out, what do you think would happen to a bunch of 6-foot humans who weigh 180 pounds?

5.  The technology that sent Willis, Affleck and crew to the asteroid in Armageddon doesn’t exist.

Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, naturally, saved the day in the film Armageddon.

With an asteroid hurtling toward Earth, Willis, Affleck and co. are launched into space and sent to the asteroid to destroy it with a nuclear bomb. Shocker: It works.

Unfortunately, though the film was released nearly two decades ago, we don’t have the technology to pull off such a feat.

Scared yet? Don’t be.

According to science, your odds of dying in an asteroid-related accident are about 1 in 250,000 — which is lower than dying in a car crash, plane crash, earthquake, tornado or flood.


And if an asteroid really does destroy Earth, your demise will be quick.

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Category: Space


  1. There must be a size that is lethal. Also if it lands in a dessert, or mountainous region the devastation would be less than at a shoreline. Do you have anywhere to find such theoretical data?

    1. I agree that the location of impact does have a crucial part in how much damage occurs. This blurb by NASA is a great read about the probability of collisions with Earth.


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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. Megan is also a regular contributor to The Naked Scientists, Thomas Insights, and Real Clear Science. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking, and stargazing.