The Barringer Meteorite Crater (also known as Meteor Crater) is a gigantic
hole in the middle of the arid sandstone of the Arizona desert. A rim of smashed
and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 50 meters above the surrounding plain. The crater itself is nearly a 1500 meters wide and 180 meters deep. When Europeans first discovered the crater, the plain around it
was covered with chunks of meteoritic ironover 30 tons of itscattered over
an area 12 kilometers to 15 kilometers in diameter. Scientists now believe that the crater was
created approximately 50,000 years ago. The meteorite itself was composed
almost entirely of nickel-iron, suggesting that it may have originated in the
interior of a small planet. It was 50 meters across, weighed roughly 300,000 tons,
and traveled at a speed of 65,000 kilometers per hour. This Advanced Spaceborne Thermal
Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) 3-D perspective
view was created by draping a false-color image (near infrared=red, red=green, green=blue) over a digital elevation model made by the US Geological Survey National Elevation Dataset.
This image was acquired on May 17, 2001 by ASTER aboard NASAs Terra satellite.
Size: 15 kilometers x 30 kilometers (9 miles x 18 miles)
Location: 35.1 degrees north latitude, 111.0 degrees west longitude
Orientation: Northeast at top
Image Data: ASTER bands 1,2, and 3.
Original Data Resolution: 15 meters
Date Acquired: May 17, 2001
Germany’s Ries Crater (or Nördlinger Ries) is not easily discerned in space-based images. The crater’s existence was probably just as subtle to the medieval Europeans who established a settlement inside it and unknowingly matched their 1-kilometer- (0.6-mile-) wide city to the likely diameter of the meteorite that formed the crater.
India’s Lonar Crater began causing confusion soon after it was identified. Lonar Crater sits inside the Deccan Plateau—a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock leftover from eruptions some 65 million years ago. Its location in this basalt field suggested to some geologists that it was a volcanic crater. Today, however, Lonar Crater is understood to result from a meteorite impact that occurred between 35,000 and 50,000 years ago.
Wolfe Creek Crater is the second largest crater in the world from which meteorite fragments have been collected. Because of its excellent preservation, the crater clearly shows the classic features that result from a large meteorite striking the Earth.
Acquired October 10, 2007, this false-color image shows Chiyli Crater in western Kazakhstan. Vegetation appears red, and clings primarily to riverbanks near the crater. Sunlight illuminates south-facing slopes, including the central peak of the crater.