DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Barringer meteor crater in northern Arizona is the best preserved impact crater on Earth, and was formed 49,000 years ago. The Payson (basket) meteorite, is a fragment from the impact and weighs 18 kilograms and measures over 30 centimetres high. It was found some 16 kilometres north of the crater. Before entering the Earth's atmosphere it is estimated that the meteor was originally 1.186 km wide, and before hitting the ground lost approximately half of its mass burning up, the remaining part exploded and evaporated when it impacted in the ground. The meteorite hit the ground at a speed of 12.8 km per second with an impact force of approximately 2.5 megatons – 150 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. In 1903 Daniel M Barringer suggested that the crater had been produced by the impact of a large iron-metallic meteorite, a theory confirmed by G Shoemaker in 1960.
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