Guided Exploration: Impacts


HoM Tour Map: Impacts

Overview: This section explores what we can learn from meteorite impacts, the probability of future impacts, and what craters tell us about the dynamic history of the solar system and the histories of planets.

1. Earth Impact

Explore this area and consider the various factors — such as the size of the object, its speed and trajectory, and where it lands — that determine how catastrophic an impact could be.

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Earth impacts

During Earth's 4.5 billion year history, countless meteorites have crashed onto the planet. Many of these impacts initially left behind craters, ranging from small pits to huge cavities dozens of miles across. 

2. Meteor Crater

Scientists determined that the 1,200-meter-wide Barringer crater in Arizona was caused by a meteorite, not a volcano. Explore the mini diorama and the evidence.

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Meteor Crater

The first geological report on the gigantic Northern Arizona Crater, in 1891, focused not on the crater itself but on tiny diamonds found in nearby meteorites.

3. On the Moon

Unlike Earth, the Moon is a “dead” planetary body — it has no life, no atmosphere, and almost no water or geologic activity — so it has remained largely unaltered for most of its history. Investigate how lunar craters allow scientists to piece together Earth and Moon’s shared history of asteroid bombardment.

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On the Moon

The craters on the Moon are a historical record of asteroid impacts—on Earth as well as the Moon.