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Much larger objects may impact the solid earth and create a crater.Objects with a diameter less than 1 m (3.3 ft) are called meteoroids and seldom make it to the ground to become meteorites. Geological Survey estimated the rate of Earth impacts, concluding that an event about the size of the nuclear weapon that destroyed Hiroshima occurs about once a year.Throughout recorded history, hundreds of Earth impacts (and exploding bolides) have been reported, with some occurrences causing deaths, injuries, property damage, or other significant localised consequences.One of the best-known recorded impacts in modern times was the Tunguska event, which occurred in Siberia, Russia, in 1908.Impact craters and structures are dominant landforms on many of the Solar System's solid objects and present the strongest empirical evidence for their frequency and scale.

Notable impact events include the Chicxulub impact, 66 million years ago, believed to be the cause of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

It was not until 1903–1905 that the Barringer Crater was correctly identified as an impact crater, and it was not until as recently as 1963 that research by Eugene Merle Shoemaker conclusively proved this hypothesis.

The findings of late 20th-century space exploration and the work of scientists such as Shoemaker demonstrated that impact cratering was by far the most widespread geological process at work on the Solar System's solid bodies.

The asteroid impact that caused Mistastin crater generated temperatures exceeding 2,370 °C, the highest temperatures known to have occurred on Earth.

The Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 impact provided the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects, when the comet broke apart and collided with Jupiter in July 1994.

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