Asteroids, also known as small or minor planets are irregular bodies that vary in size and composition. They are usually found in the inner solar system among planets and primarily move in indirect orbits between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, however some orbit relatively nearby to Earth. This is the prime concern with asteroids; where in the past collision with Earth has had tremendous affects and possibility of future collisions will always exist. This concern has been popularised in many forms and everyday the rate of technology intended to reduce the impact of any likely future asteroid collision is expanding.
In order to demonstrate an increase or decrease in the impact of an asteroid, measurable by its crater size, my outcome variable is: How a chosen factor affects the diameter of an impact crater. There are many factors that have a form of influence to the affect of an asteroid collision: Mass – The gravitational potential energy stored by an object is significantly determined by the amount of matter an object contains. As the mass of an object increases, the potential increases, hence the kinetic energy increases causing an increase in the size of impact.
Speed – The speed the asteroid is travelling at will have a major affect on the impact of the crater. Crater size increases with increasing speed. Height – The speed of the asteroid is dependant on the height at which it is falling. Therefore these two variables are linked. Air resistance – Small objects / balls have very little air resistance. This can be easily demonstrated because it takes a long time for a ball to slow down so only a small amount of energy is lost when the ball is dropped. Large objects are affected by a significant amount of air resistance, this will change the way the object moves.
Gravity – Objects are moved by the force of gravity pulling on it. Gravity on earth would enhance the attractiveness of an asteroid, whereas on the moon, where the pull of gravity is less, the object would take more time to collide with the surface. Directed medium – The composition of the medium in which the asteroid collides will have an affect on the resulting crater size. The same asteroid would have a different result colliding with two contrary mediums, dependant on the content and varying moisture.
Angel of impact – From the craters that have been observed in the past, it has been established that those with a collision at a specific oblique angle were amongst the largest. Therefore the angel of collision has an influence. Each of the above mentioned factors do have a form of influence to an asteroid collision, however not all can be recreated in accordance to my experiment. Therefore I will rule out each factor that is irrelevant or shows a sign of possible obstruction when it comes to doing the actual experiment. The first exclusion is the angel of impact.
This is primarily due to the reason that it would be too difficult to setup and furthermore beyond measure. The second is evenly between air resistance and gravity. This is logically due to the reason that amongst the apparatus I am provided with to conduct the experiment, these factors will be immeasurable. And last is speed as this isn’t actually an input variable, more of an output variable to the height at which the projectile is falling. Therefore speed is irrelevant and it wouldn’t be possible to set the values of speed prior to the experiment.
Therefore this leaves me with mass, height and the directed medium all of which can be altered in order to demonstrate an influence. These 4 factors will all have a form of involvement, however I will primarily only concentrate on one, thus my aim: AIM: To investigate how mass affects the diameter of an impact crater. Therefore mass is the independent variable. As an independent variable, it simply means I will need to change the mass throughout the experiment in order to demonstrate a possible influence.