Hollywood has accustomed us to disaster films where an entire city or region is completely destroyed by a killer asteroid, or even worse, the entire planet is threatened by a comet or large asteroid that would make us end up like the dinosaurs. Examples of this are the films that have gone down in history such as “Armaggedon”, “Deep Impact” or more recently the film produced by Netflix “Don’t Look Up” with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, where an astrophysics professor, after having discovered that a comet on a collision course with the Earth, together with his student, try to communicate it without having great fortunes and without ever being taken seriously, a film which was made with the scientific advice of researcher Amy Mainzer Senior at NASA JPL. Cinema has deluded us into thinking that these planetary catastrophes always happen in the United States, but is that really the case?
Obviously most of the spectacular films on the subject are shot by Hollywood and it is natural to think that the scenography is set entirely on American soil, but the statistics on impacts from past asteroids and that we have been able to observe tell us something else. Just think, in recent times, of the Tunguska disaster in 1908 or even more recently of the small Chelyabinsk asteroid in 2013. If we go even further back in time, we can observe that the Earth is full of impact craters and they are equally distributed over the whole the world territory. Certainly the fact that the Earth is a planet covered by oceans and seas for over 70% should at least alleviate a little the fear of being directly hit by an asteroid. But what if our worst nightmare turns into reality? Unfortunately, statistics are not on our side and it is certain that among the millions of objects that rotate near the Earth every year, sooner or later someone will cross our orbit.
To understand what the effects of an unpleasant encounter would be, it is possible to use an interesting application that quite realistically makes us understand what could happen if it were our city or our home, to be threatened by an asteroid. To make a simulation it is possible to connect to this link: https://neal.fun/asteroid-launcher/ and enter the few simple data that the simulator asks for, such as the city where we want to drop it, the size of the asteroid, the speed with which the object arrives and the angle of entry into the atmosphere and see what happens. As we can see below in our simulation example, an object 1km in diameter hitting Southern Italy would create devastation up to hundreds of km in all directions and form a crater over 15km in diameter where they would die impact almost 10 million people, a sixth of the population in Italy. This is just a simulation and obviously the numbers can be indicative and we hope we never have to turn them into reality.