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11 ways the world (as we know it) could end

By: Laura Moss on Feb. 16, 2011, 10:20 a.m.
asteroid about to hit Earth

Photo: emyerson/iStockphoto

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Movies like “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” may be works of fiction, but the threat of an asteroid hitting the planet is quite real. After all, the Earth and moon have craters that prove they have a long history of being hit by large objects from space.

In 2028, the asteroid 1997XF11 will come close to hitting Earth, but scientists say that won't actually happen. However, if it were to hit the planet, the mile-wide rock would race toward the surface at roughly 30,000 mph and probably wipe out most life on the planet. The species that did survive would be in for a rough life after such a catastrophic event. Dust from the impact and ash from the forest fires would remain in the Earth’s atmosphere for years, blocking sunlight and destroying plant life, which would cause food shortages worldwide. However, NASA's Spaceguard Survey searched for large near-Earth asteroids and has determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.