13 Jul 2012

Arizona Meteor Crater

by Joan Marie Galat

Next time you make travel plans, trying searching the name of your destination with the word ‘astronomy’ and see what appears. You might discover a new science center, observatory, planetarium, or if you are very lucky, one of Earth's 150 meteor craters!

The best preserved impact crater is the Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona. Known simply as Meteor Crater, it is located on private land on the Southern Colorado Plateau between Winslow and Flagstaff.  The crater's rim rises up to 60 metres (196 feet) above the surrounding plain. The hole is 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) across, four kilometres (2.4 miles) in circumference, and more than (180 metres) 590 feet deep!

The Holsinger Meteorite is a fragment of
the asteroid that created Meteor Crater in Arizona 
About 50,000 years ago, the crater formed when part of a nickel-iron asteroid struck the desert. Travelling 26,000 miles per hour (almost 42,000 kilometers per hour), the approximately 100,000 ton rock hit with the force of more than 20 million tons of TNT! In only a few seconds, the blast moved 175 million metric tons of rock.

Scientists use the site to study how meteors impact planets, as well as to train astronauts and test robots.

The crater is located on privately owned land, however an on-site visitor centre offers excellent guided tours. You will also enjoy the large theatre, interactive exhibits, and observation telescopes. 

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