Asteroid news: 50 TRILLION kilos of meteorites crash into Earth and Moon in ancient shower

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Researchers from Osaka University in Japan now believe that the Earth and the Moon were bombarded by asteroids around 720 to 656 million years ago. Based on the size of 59 lunar craters, at least 12 miles wide, the scientists have concluded that a 62 mile wide asteroid broke up and caused a gigantic downpour of debris on the Moon and Earth’s surfaces. The study was published in science journal Nature Communications.

The Osaka scientists believe that the asteroids hit Earth and the Moon before complex life had formed.

They also suggest that the giant asteroid may have carried phosphorus, which is vital for life to develop.

As a result, the researchers think that the asteroid collision could have kickstarted life on Earth.

Other findings suggested that the Earth was hit by 110 million billion pounds of debris, nearly 60 times more than the weight of the space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs.

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An asteroid is believed to have devastated Earth nearly 800 million years ago (Image: Getty)

Osaka University researchers believe that a gigantic 62 mile asteroid broke up and rained debris on Earth (Image: PA)

Professor Kentaro Terada led the study into the ancient asteroid assault, and explained how the scientists found evidence on the moon.

The study was focused on the moon as land changes on Earth, like earthquakes and erosion, make craters from millions of years ago nearly impossible to identify.

The Osaka team used images from the Terrain Camera on the Japanese Space Agency’s lunar orbiter Kaguya.

Prof Terada and colleagues then discovered eight out of the 59 craters they observed were formed simultaneously, which included the staggering 60-mile wide Copernicus crater.

The scientists looked at lunar craters to see how devastating the asteroid was to the planet (Image: PA)

The team also based their results on radiometric dating of material ejected from Copernicus, as well as information learned from glassy beads collected from NASA’s Apollo missions.

Prof Terada said that because the asteroid hit the moon “approximately 800 million years ago”, it must therefore have also hit the earth.

He added that the asteroid hit “immediately before the Cryogenian”, a geological period which featured multiple ice ages.

Prof Terada then said: “Based on collision probabilities, meteorites with a total mass about 30 to 60 times the one responsible for the Chicxulub impact collided with the Earth just prior to the Cryogenian period – approximately 720 to 635 million years ago.”

Chicxulub, a town in the Gulf of Mexico, contains iridium dating back 66 million years, and is evidence of the six mile wide asteroid that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct.

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Prof Terada said that the study is essential to understand how dangerous impacts from space debris can be.

He added: “Understanding meteoroid bombardment of the Earth system is an issue of both great scientific interest and practical importance because impacts are potentially hazardous to the Earth.”

He also said that while collisions from asteroid can eradicate life on Earth, they can also help life develop later.

Prof Terada said: “Lunar crater chronology provides new insight into external forcing from asteroids that might have driven ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms after 800 million years ago.”

People shouldn’t worry about an asteroid anytime soon though, as he says that the likelihood of one this size hitting Earth “is thought to be once in 100 million years”.

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The probability of asteroids hitting Earth is relatively low (Image: Express)

Comet Neowise is also set to be making it’s closest approach to Earth yet this week.

The comet is set to pass Earth on July 23, with the northern hemisphere being able to see the space rock without a telescope.

It was only discovered by NASA in March, and will come as close as 103 million km away.

After it flies by, the comet won’t likely be seen again for another 7,000 years.


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