If the car has the luck to find a rock of more or less his mass, taking the mass and speed into account, can it make a considerable amount of damage in an asteroid?

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    $\begingroup$ Two, ton-weight objects, colliding with astronomical speeds? If it happens in the asteroid belt, the result would be visible even from the Earth... $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Feb 7, 2018 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ @peterh However, retrograde asteroids are extremely rare, which means they likely won't be speeding towards each other. The question remains what would the speed on impact of the Roadster relative to the asteroid be. Would it be high enough for them to really "collid[e] with astronomical speeds"? $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Feb 7, 2018 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Sorry, yes, "collide". Thanks the grammar fix. I think, in this case, we can estimate the relative speed to some km/s to some tens km/s. It may be not visible from the Earth, but I think there won't remain too much from them. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Feb 7, 2018 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ That would be a very small asteroid. An asteroid with a diameter of 10 m has a mass on the order of 1000 tons. The asteroids we know about are mostly larger than that. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Feb 8, 2018 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbes, it seems unlikely that we would know about asteroids with a diameter of 1 m. Is there a reason to believe that none exist? $\endgroup$
    – prl
    Feb 20, 2018 at 4:22

2 Answers 2


If marking the "target" with a crater counts as damage, then NASA's Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter has apparently seen what a typical spacecraft can cause.

As many readers know, the Russians sent up a lander aimed at the south polar region of the Moon, but it crashed. Now, the LRO has identified a newly formed crater where the craft likely went down:

Luna 25 Before and after (NASA Goddard Space Center/Arizona State University)

Luna 25 Closeup

The crater measures 10 meters across. Its volume cannot be discerned because the photo does not reveal the precise shape of the bowl, but for a typical "small" crater shape tens if not hundreds of tons of rock must have been displaced. I would not have liked living in a house standing on the site.


The answer to this depends on dozens of variables, such as angles, speeds, and asteroid compositions. We would also have to define "a considerable amount of damage."

However, videos of a comparable sized rock plowing into the moon on Mar 17, 2013 show just how powerful such an impact can be. The video claims that particular impact was equivalent to 5kT of TNT.

I would not want to be either party in such an impact.


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