If an Asteroid, the size of the one that killed off the dinosaurs , passed by very close to the Earth but still remained outside of Earth's atmosphere, would it cause any damage ?

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    $\begingroup$ It might take out some spy sats and the ISS on the way through, but there's not enough gravity from one of those things to cause trouble at the surface. Big chunk of metal might disturb the magnetosphere. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2015 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Peter U: click on this link $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Mar 28, 2015 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ Many pairs of underwear would be ruined. Much damage, much destruction. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2015 at 3:08
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe comet tails could be a worry? Halley's comet in 1910 caused a scare since cyanide had been found on it spectrographically. So if Earth passed through its tail it might poison Earth's atmosphere, the press feared. Maybe passage through an intense comet tail might temporarily damage the ozone layer or something. Or just give a nice harmless meteor shower show. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Mar 18, 2016 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ @LightSaber: A 10 km-sized asteroid doesn't have nearly enough mass to capture gravitationally anything. Even at its surface, the gravitational attraction is 0.01 m s$^{-2}$. $\endgroup$
    – pela
    Mar 19, 2016 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


An asteroid that remains outside Earth's atmosphere, and therefore does not impact Earth, will have no effect on the planet.

Asteroids, even biggish ones like the dinosaur killer, are pretty small compared to the Earth. They do not have enough mass to graviationally affect earth's orbit noticeably. And if they miss earth, the pass quickly.

The concern would be that if an asteroid can pass close to Earth, that it may collide in a future orbit. The asteroid's path will be changed by the earth's gravity. However, a very close encounter will enable astronomers to get a very high quality position on the rock, and so be able to predict its future path with very great accuracy.

Comet tails aren't a worry. We passed through Halley's tail in 1910, the effect on the Earth was precisely nothing. ☄


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