The Fluctuating Population of Earth Impactors

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M. E. Bailey; W. M. Napier (1999), JBIS, 52, 185-194

Refcode: 1999.52.185

The sources and evolution of the small-body population in the near-Earth environment are reviewed, and the broad consequences of small-body impact are considered in outline. Uncertainties in the impact rate are emphasised along with factors which might cause it to vary. We highlight the likely importance of rare, giant comets in the structure and evolution of the near-Earth environment, and finally draw attention to a scarcely discussed, but possibly major, small-body hazard: that the Earth might on occasion encounter dust concentrations sufficiently dense to cause a sharp, global climatic cooling.

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