COOL IMAGES: Blasts From the Past

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Science  29 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5402, pp. 599
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5402.599c

Movies like last year's Deep Impact give you Hollywood's take on a cosmic object slamming into our planet. But seeing the real thing is pretty awesome, too. Take Manicouagan, a 65-kilometer-wide, moatlike lake in southern Quebec gouged by an asteroid or comet 214 million years ago. The photo, taken aboard the space shuttle, comes from a Natural Resources Canada (NRC) database that lists the 160 or so known remnants of impact craters on Earth and holds images of 66 that are visible from above. They range from small moonscapelike depressions to giant rings such as this one. (When a crater gets more than 2 kilometers wide, its floor bounces back, forming peaks.) The site draws everyone from students to professionals, says the NRC's Richard Grieve, who's fascinated by the fiery birth of craters at time scales, pressures, and temperatures that he calls “completely out of this world.”

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