What would happen if a big asteroid hit the moon? (Smithsonian.com / ThinkStock)
What would happen if a big asteroid hit the moon?
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You asked us, what would happen if a large asteroid hit the moon.

Thousands of meteorites have impacted the moon over the last few billion years and without an atmosphere like we have here on Earth to break up and burn these hurtling objects, the rocks have left their mark.

So what would it take to leave behind more than just a crater?

Well, an asteroid the size and mass of the moon itself would probably just destroy it or nudge it out of its current orbit around the Earth and cause drastic changes to our tides.

But honestly, all this talk is more sci-fi than hard science.

As far as we know, no asteroids even close to the size of the moon exist nearby, so it is highly unlikely that any of this would ever happen.

Which is not to say the story wouldn't make big bucks at the box office.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is the question posed by the headline more sci-fi than hard science?


Assigned 10 times


COMMENTS (30)
  • bradant-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 09:31 a.m.

    The question posed by the headline more sci-fi than hard science. Thousands of meteorites have impacted the moon over the last few billion years and without an atmosphere like we have here on Earth to break up and burn these hurtling objects, the rocks have left their mark. Well, an asteroid the size and mass of the moon itself would probably just destroy it or nudge it out of its current orbit around the Earth and cause drastic changes to our tides. But honestly, all this talk is more sci-fi than hard science. As far as we know, no asteroids even close to the size of the moon exist nearby, so it is highly unlikely that any of this would ever happen.

  • nathang-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 09:35 a.m.

    The question posed by the headline is more sci-fi than hard science. The text states that no asteroids even close to the size of the moon exist nearby, so it is highly unlikely that any of this would ever happen. The text also states but honestly, all this talk is more sci-fi than hard science. The evidence from the text proves that a meteorite that big wouldn't hit the moon.

  • tiffanylee-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 10:20 a.m.

    The question posed by the headline is more sci-fi than hard science. The text states that no asteroids even close to the size of the moon exist nearby, so it is highly unlikely that any of this would ever happen. The text also states that all this talk is more sci-fi than hard science. The evidence from the text proves that a big asteroid will not hit the moon.

  • jocelync-Koc
    5/20/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    That's crazy if there was an asteroid that big to nug the moon or destroy it. That would be very tragic if a rock that big hits the earth lets just hope that doesnt happen now. Or it better just happen within a couple of billion years to come. I wouldnt want to imagine a world with no moon because that could cause diseases and have weird and odd things happen to us.

  • BenB10
    5/20/2015 - 12:16 p.m.

    The question here's asking the impossible. It says that there isn't even a known asteroid bigger than the moon. And even if there was an asteroid that size, what would chances of it going near the moon? On top of all this everyone knows that many asteroids have hit the moon before which is what causes all the craters. As you can see the moon, and tides are safe from oncoming asteroids as far as we know.

  • williamd-Koc
    5/20/2015 - 12:19 p.m.

    by drastic changes to our tidal waves does that mean more hurricanes or tsunamis? If the moon was knocked closer to earth wouldn't our gravity pull the moon towards earth causing a major impact and possibly ending life itself?

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    5/20/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    If a huge asteroid hit the moon, this would obviously result in a huge problem. I suppose that it is probable for something like this to happen, but very unlikely.

  • Sandraj-OBr
    5/20/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    I think that the headline more sci-fi than hard science, because it is most unlikely that a meteor is as big as the moon would even come close to hitting the moon. If there was one as big as the moon it would more likely hit earth than the moon. Thousands of meteors that are small have hit the moon for billions of years and it hasn't came close to a big dent. It would make a great movie title! The moon takes the tides and no moon would be horrid!

  • jarreds-Koc
    5/20/2015 - 03:52 p.m.

    It is more sci-fi because as they said in the article, an asteroid that big doesn't exist that close to our moon, and even if it did, the gravitational pull of the earth might redirect it so that it doesn't hit our moon.

  • jasmined-Koc
    5/20/2015 - 11:58 p.m.

    I think it is a relief to know no asteroid will be blowing our moon into smithereens anytime soon though the headline did startle me at first because what would life be like without the moon?

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