Meteoroids, Meteors, and the Near-Earth Object Impact Hazard

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Abstract

In considering the modern-day hazard from infalling near-Earth asteroids and comets, the focus has shifted toward the smallest, most frequent impacts that can do damage on the ground, like the 1908 Tunguska aerial burst. There is considerable uncertainty about the potential for damage by objects in the range 20 to 100 m diameter. Since smaller, less dangerous, meter-sized meteoroids are part of a continuum of small interplanetary bodies, derived by a collisional cascade and Yarkovsky spin-up, research on such phenomena by meteor scientists can shed light on a vital question that will soon have great practical relevance as new telescopic searches for near-Earth asteroids come on line: what is the threshold size between harmless high-altitude airbursts and impacts that can cause lethal damage on the ground?

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