The Discovery Channel video makes no effort to mask the nightmarish apocalypse such an asteroid would wreak across the world on impact in its ‘Large Asteroid Impact Simulation’. As the spherical space rock hits, a hypersonic shockwave covers the surface of the Earth as a column of rock blasts up beyond the atmosphere. Then the planet is engulfed in its entirety by an unstoppable wall of fire – from mountains to jungle, the planet is shown being reduced to ash.
Just one day later, the surface of the Earth is rendered completely uninhabitable.
It is estimated that this has happened at least six times in Earth’s history.
By contrast, the asteroid that is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was estimated to be only 15km in diameter.
The largest asteroid in the solar system is 945km in diameter.
The monster asteroid, Ceres, is about a quarter of the size of the moon and sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
It was, unsurprisingly, the first asteroid to ever be discovered – over 200 years ago by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi.
Luckily, due to the great distance of the asteroid’s home, it can be safely said that it will never hit Earth.
Meanwhile, an asteroid that could wipe out multiple cities may smash into Earth in the future and will certainly skim dangerously close-by within the next decade, according to NASA.
The asteroid Apophis, which measures a comparatively meagre but still devastating 1000 feet in width, will swing by at a distance of just 19,000 miles – closer than the Moon – in the next few years, when two billion people will be able to spot the space rock with their naked eye.
At an unspecified time beyond that, as the projectile keeps orbiting the sun, there is the continued possibility that it could collide with the Earth and wreak destruction on millions.
Apophis caused concern when it was discovered in 2004 because initial observations indicated a probability of up to 2.7 percent that it would hit Earth on April 13, 2029.
Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029.
That does not discount the small possibility that the asteroid could indeed end up colliding with the Earth decades later – although the probability is increasingly small.
Apophis is the Greek name of Apep, an enemy of the Ancient Egyptian sun-god Ra.