- Non-damaging meteors likely burn up in the atmosphere.
- Moderately damaging impactors usually strike the ground as meteorites, but bestow very little—if any—harm. Some explode in the air as fireballs, like meteor that burst above Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 with enough energy to break windows.
- Seriously damaging meteorites leave craters that are 10 times the size of the meteorite itself. Meteor Crater formed from an impact in the middle of this range.
- Catastrophic events generate Nepal-level earthquakes and ignite trees and grass fifty miles away with their impact energy.
- Extinction events inflict so much damage that the planet descends into an "impact winter" from all the dust, soot, and ash they send into the atmosphere. An event of this scale—responsible for the Chicxulub crater in Mexico's Yucatán—is likely what led to the die-off of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Extreme Science: Lucky Strike
What we can learn from a massive meteor crater