On February 28, 2016, I took a drive out to the Barringer Meteor Crater which was 37 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Meteor Crater was created 50,000 years ago and is believed to be the world’s best-preserved meteorite crater in the world.
The desert earth was hit with a nickel-iron meteorite at the speed of 26,000 miles per hour. When the meteorite hit, it was mostly vaporized upon impact leaving little in the crater. Meteor Crater is almost 1 mile wide, 2.4 miles around and 550 ft deep.
A piece of meteorite that was found seven miles from the crater.
In 1903, mining engineer and businessman, Daniel Barringer suggested that the crater was created by an impact of a large iron-metallic meteorite. Barringer staked a mining claim and spent the next 27 years trying to find the bulk of the impactor he believed was buried in the floor of the crater. At the time impact, physics was hardly understood and Barringer was unaware that most of the meteorite had vaporized upon impact.
During the 1960’s the NASA astronauts trained in the crater to prepare for the Apollo Missions to the moon.
Today the meteor crater is still owned by the Barringer family. The visitor center has interactive exhibits and displays about meteorites and asteroids, space and the solar system and comets, a gift shop, observation areas with views into the crater as well as guided tours of the rim. The movie theater gives you a 3D animation experience of the thunderous sound and explosive fury of the meteor’s super-heated trip through the earth’s atmosphere with a spectacular collision that exploded at more than 20 million tons of TnT. On display is also a 1,406-pound meteorite that was found in the area. There is an American Astronaut Wall of Fame.