SCIENCE
09/10/2014 08:33 am ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

You Can (Digitally) Destroy Your City With An Asteroid Strike

PaulPaladin via Getty Images

Ever wonder what would happen if an asteroid or a comet hit your hometown? Well, thanks to the Internet, there are ways to scratch that itch--digitally, anyway.

As Vox.com reported this week, Killer Asteroids, an online application run by the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, lets you simulate hurling projectiles from space at Earth, and then walks you through the scope of the damage from the impact.

Armchair apocalyptics can pick a target at random--or, if they're feeling particularly vengeful, choose specific impact locations.

We decided to play around with the tool for a bit. The results are not exactly calming utterly terrifying.

A medium-sized asteroid (around three times the size of a football field) hitting Denver, for instance, would leave all of downtown in an impact crater, and most of the remaining steel buildings in the rest of the city would be knocked down. Further out, clothing would ignite, and much of Colorado's population center would experience first-degree burns.

If a similarly-sized asteroid landed in the middle of New York City's Central Park, steel buildings would be knocked over all the way to Newark. An impact crater would cover most of Manhattan. Yikes.

Fatalists not content with killerasteroids' simpler interface may want to give Purdue's "Impact Earth" calculator a gander. The tool permits users to fine-tune everything, from projectile density to impact velocity.

For those not bent on destroying the Earth, there's Asterank, a fascinating interactive 3D model that has mapped out and animated the trajectory of major asteroids in our solar system. Users can follow Earth's orbit around the sun, watching as the planet narrowly dodges objects, or they can select individual asteroids and track their orbits as they arc from the outer reaches of the solar system toward the sun.

We'll leave the choice up to you.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Astounding asteroid craters
CONVERSATIONS