back to article We've heard of littering but this is ridiculous: Asteroid dumps up to 50 quadrillion kg of space dirt on Earth, Moon

A massive asteroid broke apart within the inner Solar System and showered the Earth and Moon with up to fifty quadrillion kilograms of meteoroids, say a trio of Japanese scientists. That's approximately 30 to 60 times more cosmic material than the Chicxulub prang that thoroughly ruined the dinosaurs' day. The academics …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    a bit late to worry about putting my hat on, then.

  2. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Chances are good that we would see that one for a while. Couldn't do much about it, though. Lucifers Hammer, anyone?

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    50 quadrillion kg...

    What's that in matresses?

    New Reg measurement for space junk perhaps?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

      I would have thought Megajubs would do the job, shirley?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

      We can reduce it a bit. 5x10^13 tonnes. Or tons for all the practical difference it makes. How much does a typical social media data centre weigh?

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

        "How much does a typical social media data centre weigh?"

        Depends on content, because any fule knows videos weigh more than just text.

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

      I dunno.. Cubic meters or yards I reckon.. Or whatever the Vogon constructor fleet order their base fill by. Hopefully NASA's keeping a sharp lookout for the Vogon dozer/backhaul crews.

      Kinda neat though the way scientists ponder dirt via soil/sediment/ice cores to try and figure out if dust is man-made, or golden stardust.

      1. bonkers

        Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

        This is where Reg units come to the fore, rather than gee-whizz quadrilllions, whatever the fuck they are.

        It would bury Wales under a kilometer of rock, and no, there isn't that option, it is just informative.

        (assumes density 2.5 ton/m3, a reasonable figure = 5 x 10^13 ton, 2 x 10^10 m2)

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

          We should ask a real expert. What would Gretha Thunberg say about the 1 kilometer of Wales Global Warming incident?

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

            Considering it was just before one of the snowball earth episodes it seems likely the dust kicked up from the impact might have caused Global Cooling much like a nuclear winter would. Might have triggered a nascent phase change to Snowball program 3.

            But dinnae fash yersel, volcanic activity and CO2 and methane production and weathering from LIFE probably got the earth out of that program which then got downgraded to Ice Ages. The climate modellers reckon we might have seen off another ice age with the agricultural revolution which chopped down mature forests, burnt the stumps etc Grew seasonal crops using ploughing & probably kept methane farting cows, pigs & geeps while burning wood for cooking and warmth.

            It didn’t just take the industrial revolution to kickstart Global Warming, it just added a supercharger to the engine our farming ancestors started. I’m just 2 generations away from the farm gate. Grandfather was a younger son so not in line to inherit the lease, a grammar school boy who became an engineer leaving my Great Uncle to run the farm.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    A Recent Heavy Bombardment?

    There's evidence for the Late Heavy Bombardment about 4 billion years ago so this is relatively recent. All of these theories suggest that occasionally the Oort cloud outside the solar system may be disrupted and result in some trash running around the inner planets. While it's interesting to see if the Lunar evidence supports this, it would be very interesting to get dates on impact craters on Mars, maybe that's what caused Mars to be the lifeless planet that we see today.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: A Recent Heavy Bombardment?

      I would be shocked if there is ANY evidence cite which rules out Oort cloud activity in favor of an asteroid. "At the same time" in this context almost certainly means "+/= 10-20MY". Whether it was a single event, or an orbital alignment that caused numerous events over this period has got to be entirely speculative.

    2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Re: A Recent Heavy Bombardment?

      Recent ones are fine, just watch out for the Upcoming Heavy Bombardment =:-O

  5. HildyJ Silver badge

    25924 Douglasadams

    It would be wonderfully improbable if it was a fragment 25924 Douglasadams, an asteroid that was named for him because of the wonderfully improbable coincidence that its original designation was 2001 DA42 - the year of his death, his initials, and the Answer.

  6. Semianonymous Megacoward

    About that crater erasure

    Not only erosion and volcanism can obscure craters; consider the dino-killing Chicxulub impact crater, buried under sedimentary rock. Also, most asteroid strikes on Earth will occur in oceans, and the ocean floor is vigorously recycled into the mantle via subduction. The average age of the ocean floor is only about one sixth the age of the Cryogenian, and none of the ocean floor is as old as old as the impacts discussed in this article. So evidence of bombardment from 800 million years ago would likely be indirect, such as layers of shocked quartz in sedimentary rock.

    Incidentally, the current interpretation of Martian history has the red planet dry, frozen and (relatively) airless before the impacts described here ( ). Researchers from Elon Musk's Mars colonists might look for a spike in crater ages around 800 million years ago.

  7. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Fly tipping

    ... on a grand scale. Did anyone get their license plate number?

  8. rcxb Silver badge

    SI units

    50 quadrillion kg

    What's that in picograms?

    Ah, metric... You're doing it wrong.

    After kilograms comes megagram (Mg) then gigagram (Gg), teragram (Tg), petagram (Pg), exagram (Eg), zettagram (Zg), yottagram (Yg).

    If you're going to have a multiple of a common prefix you think people are more familiar with, you might as well stick with Imperial units. Doesn't 7873652220888600000000000 stone just sound better?

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: SI units

      It was 1 stone.

      One *really big* stone


      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: SI units

        "It was 1 stone."

        Originally. Then it became lots of little ones

  9. DS999

    How do you determine the age of an asteroid?

    They think a bigger body broke up 800 million years ago, some of it hit the Earth/Moon, and some of it makes up the asteroid Ryugu. What on Ryugu is going to show that 800 million year age, versus the much older age when the rock it is made of was originally formed (presumably when the solar system itself was formed)

    1. Esme

      Re: How do you determine the age of an asteroid?

      Weathering.. Sunlight, cosmic radiation etc all have effects on surface material that can be detected; underlying rock that hasn't been exposed at the surface won't have this. On larger more solid asteroids, crater counts may help, too, although on smaller ones that are little more than piles of small rocks flying in formation crater-counting isn't a useful option.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      The ice at the poles is nowhere near old enough. Antarctica started icing up about 45mya so it's of no use for stuff which happened 800mya.

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