by Wesley Della Volla
The massive 2.5 ton explosion shot chunks of rock and plumes of dirt into the air, raining down around the newly-formed 70 foot crater in the middle of the desert. There were no plants to be seen — just rubble and sand. As I stepped over large rocks, some the size of my head, and made my way to the crater I thought to myself: this must be how Neil Armstrong felt as he bounced over the impact debris and lunar dust of the famous Apollo 11 moon landing.
In July, our crew traveled to Socorro, New Mexico to recreate an impact explosion that will help explain what happened when a meteor slammed into the earth at 30,000 miles per hour approximately 66 million years ago. Known as the Chicxulub event, the meteor collision initiated a process that eventually lead to the planet-wide extinction of 75% of all species on Earth.
After detonation, we carefully inspected the explosion site. Walking up to the crater and peering over the edge of the perfectly round hole I couldn’t help but imagine driving a lunar rover into it — the ultimate off road experience! It was a surreal moment to look around and see nothing that resembled the earthly landscape that had existed just moments before. There were no signs of life — no plants, no animals — just dirt and rocks piled where they landed at the end of their explosive journey. I will never make it to the moon, but standing in the New Mexico desert that day I felt closer to the Moon than the Earth.
Explorer‘s “24 Hours After Asteroid Impact” airs Tuesday, May 11 at 10P et/pt.