Andrew: And I'm Andrew Duncley for Astronomy Daily. Thanks for listening. And don't forget to visit our website, spacenuts. IO, where you can catch up with all these stories on the Astronomy Daily tab, and while you're there, check everything else out. The latest edition of Space Nuts coming up very soon.
David: Good morning, or afternoon, or evening, or whatever it might be for you here in the UK. That's David Smith, the British astronomer who, among other roles, is a regular guest on Astronomy Daily. In this episode we've got a look at the consequences of an asteroid impact, and a survey of the recent JWST launch. We've got a look at the key role universities can play in expanding commercial space, and a look at the future in space. So let's get started. Let's start with the impact that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The asteroid that did it all covered the Earth with a layer of volcanic ash and the effects were devastating. The asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs was half a mile across and exploded in the atmosphere above Mexico, ejecting more than half a ton of material into the atmosphere and causing the extinction of species that lived on land like the dinosaurs. The impact caused a massive volcanic eruption that spread ash around the world and caused the atmosphere to cool, and the dinosaurs died. The asteroid also left behind a crater, which is the impact site. The crater here in Mexico is called Chicxulub. But why was the asteroid so big? And why was it the size it was? So the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs was a near-Earth asteroid, not a distant comet. It was approximately in the same size range as the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The reason it was so big is because there are many in that size range that get close to Earth. In fact, NASA estimates that there have been about 60,000 collisions with objects in that size range within the last quarter-billion years. And that accounts for about 80% of the asteroids that could impact the Earth that are discovered. To find something that big, we have to look at the activity of the asteroid belt. So the asteroid belt is the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It's a region of rocky debris that was left over when the planets formed.
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