Namib Desert bear scar caused by meteor impact
In the vastness of one of the oldest deserts in the world, there is a relatively recent geological feature: the Roter Kamm crater (“Red comb” in German). An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed the crater orbiting above the Namib Desert. It is approximately 130 meters (430 feet) deep and 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in diameter.
Geologists estimate that a meteorite the size of a large motor vehicle crossed the sky and crashed into the sea of red sand dunes about 5 million years ago. It created an impact crater that has since been filled with blown orange and red sand.
Over millions and billions of years, many meteoroids, comets and asteroids have passed through Earth’s atmosphere and left scars on the planet in the form of impact craters. More than 100 tons of material from near-Earth objects – particles and rock fragments from asteroids and comets ranging in size from dust to 1 meter in diameter – bombard Earth daily. Sometimes they visibly decay as meteors or “shooting stars” in the mesosphere before reaching the ground.
A meteoroid capable of causing significant damage to the Earth’s surface occurs much less often: about once every 2,000 years. Impactors large enough to cause extinction level events on Earth, such as the Cretaceous-Mass extinction at the tertiary limits (KT): reach the surface at the rate of once every few million years.
Photograph of Astronaut ISS062-E-103112 was acquired on March 20, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 200-millimeter lens and is provided by the Earth Observation Crew’s Earth Observation Facility the ISS and the Earth Sciences and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by an Expedition 62 crew member. The image has been cropped and enhanced for contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station program is supporting the laboratory as part of the ISS National Laboratory to help astronauts take photos of Earth that will be of greatest value to scientists and the public, and to render those images available free on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at ">Nasa/ JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Amber Turner, Jacobs / JETS contract at NASA-JSC.