# How to determine if an asteroid will burn up or hit Earth?

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## Main Question or Discussion Point

I want to make a interactive simulation that shows whether or not an asteroid will hit the surface of the Earth. It would have 2 sliders for you to control the speed and mass of the asteroid. The simulation will output "yes" or "no" if the asteroid hits the surface.

Is there a mathematical formula to determine if an asteroid is fast enough or big enough to pass through Earth's atmosphere without burning up? Is there a way to simplify this with some assumptions?

Thanks!

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davenn
Gold Member
2019 Award
hi there

I want to make a interactive simulation that shows whether or not an asteroid will hit the surface of the Earth.
you have labelled your thread with an "I" undergraduate level, what research have you done for yourself so far ?

Is there a mathematical formula to determine if an asteroid is fast enough or big enough to pass through Earth's atmosphere without burning up?
speed isn't going to vary overly much with around 45km / sec being the avg.
What is more important and you didn't account for is it's density. you can have two 10m diameter rocks, one is very dense nickel/iron and one is stony
The nickel/iron WILL make it to the ground and for the most part stay intact till impact.
But the stony rock of the same size is more likely to break up / explode in the atmosphere and hit the ground in many smaller pieces.

Ant nickel/iron object of around 5m or more will make it to the ground, the atmosphere cant stop it

OmCheeto
Gold Member
I want to make a interactive simulation that shows whether or not an asteroid will hit the surface of the Earth. It would have 2 sliders for you to control the speed and mass of the asteroid. The simulation will output "yes" or "no" if the asteroid hits the surface.

Is there a mathematical formula to determine if an asteroid is fast enough or big enough to pass through Earth's atmosphere without burning up? Is there a way to simplify this with some assumptions?

Thanks!
Purdue University made such a simulation a while back: Impact Earth!
So I'm sure there are mathematical formulas to determine such things.
But, they used 4 variables(diameter, angle of entry, density, velocity), so a two slider control would have to set two variables as constants.

Regardless of which two variables you choose, I think it would be a fun project.

ps. I only know this, as we discussed this earlier: Impact: Earth! A meteor/comet impact simulator

you have labelled your thread with an "I" undergraduate level, what research have you done for yourself so far ?
I have tried to do research myself and have only found given scenarios but no formulas to calculate my own. I am currently taking an introduction to astronomy course and this subject is outside the curriculum.

speed isn't going to vary overly much with around 45km / sec being the avg.
What is more important and you didn't account for is it's density. you can have two 10m diameter rocks, one is very dense nickel/iron and one is stony
The nickel/iron WILL make it to the ground and for the most part stay intact till impact.
But the stony rock of the same size is more likely to break up / explode in the atmosphere and hit the ground in many smaller pieces.

Ant nickel/iron object of around 5m or more will make it to the ground, the atmosphere cant stop it
I figured it would be more complicated than I hoped. Thanks for pointing out the density parameter. I will either make it constant or add it as a variable if I have time. Is there a calculation I can do to prove these sized rocks would either burn or hit the ground?

Purdue University made such a simulation a while back: Impact Earth!
So I'm sure there are mathematical formulas to determine such things.
But, they used 4 variables(diameter, angle of entry, density, velocity), so a two slider control would have to set two variables as constants.

Regardless of which two variables you choose, I think it would be a fun project.

ps. I only know this, as we discussed this earlier: Impact: Earth! A meteor/comet impact simulator
Thank you for this share! It's as fun as it is interesting. I found their article explaining the calculations and formulas they used for the simulation. If you or anyone would like to see it too, I shared it below. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/effects.pdf