Approximately 50,000 tons (45,359 metric tons) of rock, metal, and other elements travel into the Earth’s atmosphere each year, but most of the time they disintegrate before they can impact our planet. Nevertheless, NASA projects that a large asteroid impacts the Earth about once every 100 years.
Most asteroids that do reach Earth are small and don’t cause damage. There were 556 recorded instances of asteroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere from 1994 to 2013, according to NASA. The last time an asteroid wider than 55 yards (50.3 m) came to Earth was in Siberia in 1908; the impact destroyed 770 sq mi (2,000 sq km) of forested land.
More about asteroids:
- The largest asteroid in our solar system is Ceres, which lies between Mars and Jupiter. It measures 590 miles (950 km) in diameter and is usually considered a dwarf planet.
- According to a widely accepted theory, asteroids may consist of leftover material from the original formation of the solar system.
- There are 10 recorded instances of spacecraft orbiting and even landing on asteroids.