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Vredefort Crater

Vredefort Crater

The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 will narrowly miss Earth this Friday, the closest asteroid flyby on record. But the planet has not always been so lucky.

Earth’s craters are enduring testaments to direct asteroid hits. And though millions—in some cases billions—of years of erosion have made it difficult to determine the exact size of the meteorites, there is a general scientific consensus around the world’s largest craters, which mark the largest asteroid impacts.

Here are the ten biggest known:

1. Vredefort Crater

Asteroid impact date: Estimated 2 billion years ago

Location: Free State, South Africa

Specs: Also known as the Vredefort Dome, the Vredefort crater has an estimated radius of 118 miles (190 kilometers), making it the world’s largest known impact structure. This crater was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

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