Would it be possible to have a extinction level meteor hit Earth depending on shape to actually create minimal damage if turned on its thinnest area rather than hitting flat? The meteor would enter the Earth like a professional diver's minimal splash into the mantle, instead of a belly flop.


1 Answer 1


It can't fall slower as the first cosmical speed (7.8 km/s), which is still very high. Although it would cause much smaller destruction as it would hit directly with the mean speed of the meteors (10-70km/s).

The lower angle of the hit doesn't play a significant role, because

  1. considering its mass, the interaction with the atmosphere will be probably negligible
  2. most of the destruction happens from the secondary effects (earthquake, etc) which are caused by the nearly perfectly inelastic collision with the Earth. Thus, the angle doesn't matter, the energy will be the same.

The destructive power depends on the kinetical energy, which depends on the square of the speed. Thus, it will be only 1% of a meteor coming with 78 km/s.

The probability of such a "light hit" is very small, consider the quite complex control of the space probes. The meteor should do this as coincidence.


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