DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Meteor descent. Illustration of a large meteoroid smoking in the final stage of its descent through Earth's atmosphere. The meteoroid may explode in the air (an airburst), or it may survive to impact the ground as a meteorite. The effect of a large meteorite impact or meteor airburst over a city would be catastrophic, with extensive damage and loss of life. Asteroids that are 30 to 40 metres across are large enough to wipe out a city. Around a million such asteroids exist, though unlike the larger asteroids that could cause global destruction, only a small number of these 'city killers' are being tracked.
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