The Asteroid That Hit L.A.

  • By Susan K. Lewis
  • Posted 09.01.06
  • NOVA scienceNOW

Imagine for the sake of argument that the asteroid Apophis is headed straight for Los Angeles. The city is evacuated, but what about San Diego 125 miles away? Would you be safe there? In this interactive feature, use a "catastrophe calculator" designed by geophysicists at the University of Arizona to run through a few hair-raising scenarios.

Launch Interactive

Use a catastrophe calculator to try out some "what-if" scenarios regarding an asteroid potentially striking Los Angeles.


Many thanks to Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh, and Gareth Collins of the University of Arizona, who devised the computer program on which this feature is based. To learn more about their algorithm and try out scenarios of your own, visit



(California coast)
Courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
(Barringer Meteor Crater)
Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
(K-T asteroid impact, coastal asteroid impact)
Courtesy NASA/Don Davis

Image composite of asteroid over Rose Bowl

Courtesy NASA
(Rose Bowl)
Courtesy Tournament of Roses® Archive

Related Links

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    Will future asteroids trigger massive extinctions—or be mined for precious minerals?

  • At the Edge of Space

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  • Asteroid

    Will a doomsday rock the size of the Rose Bowl hit Earth in 2036?

  • Asteroid: Expert Q&A

    NASA's Don Yeomans answers questions about Apophis and the asteroid threat in general.


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