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 71 times


COMMENTS (89)
  • devinm-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 06:29 p.m.

    If a big asteroid was coming to the moon I would personally be very scared . If the asteroid hits the moon it will destroy and the left over asteroid will potentially come and hit earth.

  • TimH-Kut
    5/25/2015 - 07:29 p.m.

    Reading this article makes me think. What if earth was once like the moon, and the moon was an asteroid. therefore, what if the moon is a giant asteroid that once hit the earth.

  • LTaylor-Cas
    5/26/2015 - 09:04 a.m.

    I honestly think the moon is way too big in size for a asteroid to ever come close to the size of it and destroy it.

  • Milo-Par
    5/26/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    I the asteroid would hit the moon and the moon would blow up and then the asteroid would come down to Earth and make another moon

  • BrettHPink
    5/26/2015 - 04:43 p.m.

    I believe that the only way an Asteroid big enough to destroy the moon or send it out of orbit would have to be another planet. If the moon was ever destroyed the tides on the coast and in the ocean would be messed up and would be more dangerous.

  • davethwave
    5/26/2015 - 06:43 p.m.

    If the moon was hit by an asteroid big enough to destroy it, a lot of the debris would hopefully miss us and if not, cause terrible impacts but if it was knocked out of orbit it would have a devastating effects on the ocean. It would cause there to be no waves and it would be terrible for the people at the coast. The water would flood the a large amount of the Earth and cause a huge amount of death. hopefully this will never happen.

  • JakeP-Kut
    5/27/2015 - 10:38 a.m.

    If an asteroid hit the moon the moon would blow up. That would drastically change the earths tides and could make our nights be extremely dark were you couldn't see anything.

  • japreep514
    5/27/2015 - 04:10 p.m.

    I never had thought about the moon being destroyed by an asteroid but its good to know that i still probably wont ave to worry about it.\

  • HunterP-Kut
    5/27/2015 - 08:38 p.m.

    WOW! If an Astrid hit the moon, in the passage it said that if an Astrid hit the moon it would probably dis troy the moon our nudged it out of orbit around the earth. Now that's just crazy talk to me but science shows this could actually happen. And it could effect the earth by causing drastic changes in our tides.

  • MailanN-4
    5/27/2015 - 09:22 p.m.

    In this article it said that if an astroid about the size of the moon were to hit the moon it's self it would cause the moon to cause dramatic changes to the atmosphere because it would go out of its orbit and affect the earth and its atmosphere. In this article it said that if an astroid about the size of the moon were to hit the moon it's self it would cause the moon to have dramatic changes in the atmosphere because it would go out of its orbit and affect the earth. But this is very unlikely to happen because there is no astroid known to be nearly as big as the moon close by. So basically this scenario is very sci-fi and would be a good movie.

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