Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Barringer Meteor Crater


BIG. HOLE. IN. THE. GROUND. I took a photograph of the Meteor Crater years ago from an airplane, but it's something else altogether to stand at the edge of it! (Although, the fact that you can even spot it from a plane is pretty freaking cool.)

About 50,000 years ago, an asteroid (or a very significant piece of one) traveling at approximately 42,000 kilometres (26,000 miles) per hour crashed into what is now northern Arizona with the impact of 2+ million tons of TNT, creating a massive crater that would take the average human a couple of hours to walk around.

So, naturally, we built observation trails around it, to take in all it's awesomeness from every angle, since it is the best-preserved impact crater in the world:
1.6 kilometers / 1 mile across
4 kilometers / 2.4 miles in circumference
168 meters / 500 feet deep

Arizona Meteor Crater

I visited the crater once in 1999, and was gratified to see the small center at the rim has now expanded into a larger museum, full gift shop, small restaurant, an Astronaut Memorial Park, and a wide-screen movie theatre, where we watched a fascinating movie with 3D-animated modeling on how the meteor smashed to Earth all those years ago -- sound effects and all .

Construction was underway on yet another building, which will include more food choices, an expanded rock shop, and interactive exhibits for children.  All in all, a wonderful science attraction!  And of course, this is featured as a "space stop" on my Pillownaut Map of World Museums and Space Novelties.

Also, they have an Apollo Test Capsule, since many of that era's astronauts used the crater for analog simulations prior to their lunar landings.

Seems like it should be a national historic site, doesn't it? However, it is privately owned. Founded by geologist Daniel Moreau Barringer in 1903, the Barringer Crater Company is committed to the preservation of the grand crater, and supporting scientific research in the field of meteoritics.

Owned and operated by fourth-generation descendants of Barringer, the company also provides research grants for field work and doctoral students, and bestows an annual award known as the Barringer Medal to recognize outstanding scientific achievement in understanding impact phenomena around the world.

Later today, we're going to an even bigger hole in the ground! Grand Canyon, brace yourselves for the Trek away team!


Mrs. L said...

I went to the crater in the early 80's so I assume it's changed a bunch since then (not the crater, but all the stuff around it). Back then basically you just went out the back of a building and looked at the crater!

Of course I always associate Starman with the crater too.

PillowNaut said...

It has definitely changed... I went in the 90s and it was like you describe, except they had put bars in various places for legal reasons. Now, they are really "touristing" it up more, LOL...

Jake Christensen said...

So glad to see your post on this awesome place. I've made three trips there myself. ...oh, and now I have to go watch Starman with Jeff Bridges again. Wonderful use of the crater in that film.

PillowNaut said...

Love that movie! They showed us the [suicidal] trailed Jeff Bridges and the camera crews used... LOL! You should definitely come back -- so much has changed, and it's really expanding :)

Norman Copeland. said...

Hope things are good and good luck...

Chris De Burgh / A spaceman came travelling