Terminal Velocity and Escape Velocity for Asteroid M in X-Men 97

Rhett Allain
6 min readMay 17, 2024
Image: Disney Plus. Sunspot and Jubilee watching Asteroid M

Everyone is watching X-Men 97 on Disney Plus and so should you. However, if you haven’t seen the season finale then this is your SPOILER ALERT. But don’t worry, I’m really just going to talk about physics. Really, this is what I do — I find stuff I like and then I add a physics twist. It’s fun.

In case you aren’t familiar with the episode, Asteroid M is Magneto’s own base in space that is “said to be several cubic miles in size”. I don’t think it’s in low Earth orbit, instead it’s just hovering there using some type of power source to keep it up (I totally could be wrong here). In this episode, someone shoots some missiles at the base and it starts to fall to Earth. That’s all you need to know before the physics.

Terminal Velocity

Here’s a line from the episode:

“The asteroid is reaching terminal velocity”.

But what is terminal velocity and is this even possible for asteroid M to reach this speed? OK, let’s start with something simple. Suppose you take a spherical rock with a radius of 1 centimeter and drop it from some high altitude. As it falls, there are two forces acting on it:

  • The gravitational force due to the interaction with the Earth.
  • The air resistance force due…



Rhett Allain

Physics faculty, science blogger of all things geek. Technical Consultant for CBS MacGyver and MythBusters. WIRED blogger.