The planet saving capabilities of our atmosphere are far more impressive than thought, a new study has found.
Researchers have uncovered the mechanisms that protect the planet from incoming meteorites.
They found air particles penetrate the space rocks, causing them to explode from the inside. The Purdue team found air pockets are the key to keeping us safe.
The air particles create pockets of high pressure that ultimately lead the rock to explode from the inside, tens of kilometers above the Earth, they say.
Scientists uncovered the mechanism while simulating the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, where a 20-meter (60-foot) wide meteor exploded 29.7 kilometers (18.5 miles) above the Russian Ural Mountains.
The simulations showed that the atmosphere buffets against the meteor’s side facing Earth, forming a dense pocket of air in front of the rock. On the flip side, the meteor’s wake creates a vacuum. The pressurized air bubble ahead of the meteor is strongly attracted to the low-pressure environment developing behind the meteor, causing air particles to rapidly flow through the rock’s cracks and holes from the front to the back of the rock. The high-pressure air moving through the meteor forces the fragments apart, causing the meteor to disintegrate in the upper atmosphere.
Source: Daily mail