A new study found that the locations of asteroid strikes in the distant past can be tracked by using crime scene tech.
Asteroids have been making close passes at Earth and they have even hit the planet causing much devastation. NASA and other space agencies across the globe have been trying to develop ways to protect earth from such future destruction that an asteroid could cause to earth. And for this, it’s crucial to understand how often these kinds of impacts happened in the past and how they impacted the environment. A new research published by the University of Exeter says that analysing charred remains of plants through new technique can tell us the locations of asteroid strikes in the distant past.
In the new study, an international team of researchers found that charcoal around asteroid craters is different from wildfire charcoal and hence, analysing its samples allows scientists to find out the origin of small craters. The lead author Dr Ania Losiak, from the Institute of Geological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Exeter, said, “The properties of organisms turned into charcoal reflect the conditions in which they were killed.”
She explained that the conditions like the heat the wood was exposed to or the duration of the heating, leave tell-tale signs in the material’s structure.
“For example, charcoal from low-energy surface fires, like burning bushes and leaves, has different properties than charcoal from high-intensity wildfires,” she added. Losiak also mentioned that Impact charcoals are very strange as they appear to be formed in much lower temperatures than wildfire charcoals, and they are all very similar to each other, however, in a wildfire it is common to find strongly charred wood just next to barely affected branches.
“The differences between wildfire charcoal and impact charcoal proved to be dramatic and surprising,” said Professor Claire Belcher, part of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute. He explained that wildfire charcoal is considerably varied in its reflectivity, depending on the local conditions during the fire while impact charcoals showed uniform characteristics despite their different locations.