Segments in this Video

Apophis (04:21)


In 2029, an asteroid will pass close to Earth; if it passes through "the keyhole," it will collide with Earth in 2036. A rocket will push it off icourse; collision would be catastrophic.

Solar System Shooting Gallery (04:47)

Jupiter's gravitational pull and large cross section make it a frequent target; there is an asteroid belt between it and Mars. In 1994, the Shoemaker Levy 9 comets strike the gas giant; impacts occur again in 2009 and 2010.

Asteroid Belt (03:19)

Ceres is the largest object in the field between Jupiter and Mars; its impact with Earth would be devastating. We are more likely to be hit by a smaller body; they are less detectable and more common.

Consequences of Impact (03:19)

A 100 foot wide asteroid delivers the energy of a 500 megaton nuclear blast; it can create a crater and eject debris. Collision survivors will compete for resources. In 1908, an object's atmospheric airburst leveled hundreds of square miles in Siberia.

Space Rocks (01:55)

Meteoroids are smaller objects that frequently hit Earth's atmosphere; most burn up on entry.

Historic Impacts (06:04)

Earth's largest crater was created 2 billion years ago in South Africa. Approximately 65 million years ago, dinosaurs were wiped out by a strike in Mexico; Chesapeake Bay formed 35 million years ago.

Human Exploration (03:48)

NEAR spacecraft was set to orbit Eros; it landed and gathered geologic data. The Hayabusa rover landed on an asteroid and returned; data is still being examined. In 2007, Dawn launched to Vesta and Ceres.

Geology and Survival (04:50)

Asteroid composition and size varies; they often travel in binaries and many have moons. Knowing the chemistry of a threatening body helps to prevent or prepare for impact; comets are difficult to anticipate since they arrive from the outer solar system.

Future Exploration (03:50)

In April 2010, plans for deep space exploration are announced. Due to weak gravity of asteroids, travel will require less fuel, and anchoring.

Resources (02:27)

Asteroids often contain water, which can be broken down to oxygen and hydrogen. Rare elements, such as platinum and titanium, may be present.

Recent Threats (04:04)

In 2009, the WISE mission launches to map asteroids and comets. In 2009 and 2010, objects pass only thousands of miles from Earth. In 1972, a body on a collision course skips off the atmosphere; in 2008, fragments land in Sudan. (Credits)

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Asteroid Attack

Part of the Series : The Universe
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



What are the latest discoveries in the deadly world of asteroids? Will a recently returned Japanese spacecraft become the first to bring an asteroid sample back to our planet?

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL160943

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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