(ORDO NEWS) –1- What are asteroids?
Asteroids are rock-metal objects that range in size from about the size of a pebble to about 1,000 km across. Although they orbit the Sun, they are too small to be considered planets. Asteroids are thought to be the remnants of material left over from the formation of our solar system.
Most of them are in the asteroid belt, a doughnut-shaped ring that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers have also identified a group of asteroids whose orbits cross Earth’s orbit.
Several hundred thousand asteroids are known to exist in our solar system, and many of them have yet to be discovered. Most undiscovered asteroids are smaller ones (less than 100 km across) that are harder to detect. Scientists estimate that there are more than a million of these smaller asteroids.
2- What is the difference between an asteroid and a comet?
The main difference between asteroids and comets is their composition, that is, what they are made of. Asteroids are made up of metals and rocky material, while comets are made up of ice, dust and rocky material. Both asteroids and comets formed early in the history of the solar system, about 4.5 billion years ago.
The asteroids formed much closer to the Sun, where it was too warm for the ice to remain solid. Comets formed further from the Sun, where the ice would not melt. Comets that approach the Sun lose material with each orbit because some of their ice melts and evaporates to form a tail.
3- Has any spacecraft landed on an asteroid?
Yes, on February 12, 2001, NASA’s NEAR spacecraft landed on an asteroid called Eros. NEAR was the first spacecraft to orbit and land on the surface of an asteroid.
NEAR orbited Eros a year earlier on February 14, 2000. The spacecraft collected close-up photographs of the asteroid and measured the size and shape of Eros before landing. Eros is the largest of the asteroids whose orbits intersect the Earth’s orbit.
4- Can an asteroid hit the Earth?
It is possible that one day an asteroid will hit the Earth, but the probability of this is very small. Most asteroids are located in the asteroid belt and are located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, which is very far from us.
However, some of them are in orbits that can pass near the Earth. Astronomers are always watching the sky, and some of them specialize in tracking these asteroids.
If an asteroid is heading for Earth and we know about it years before the impact, then there is a good chance that we would have had plenty of time to plan for protection.
5- Can we really walk on an asteroid like in some movies?
Because asteroids are generally small, their gravity is extremely low. An astronaut standing on an asteroid will weigh very little and will hover over the asteroid more than walk.
6- Can asteroids have moons?
Yes, asteroids can have moons! Some of the large asteroids in our solar system do have moons. In 1993, a tiny moon called Dactyl was discovered orbiting the large asteroid Ida. Dactyl is only about 1.4 km wide, while Ida is about 32 km wide.
Since then, several other satellites have been discovered orbiting asteroids. In 1999, a 13 km wide moon called the Little Prince was discovered orbiting a 218 km wide asteroid, Eugene. In 2000, a moon about 14 km wide was discovered near the 145 km wide asteroid Pulkovo.
7- What is the largest asteroid?
The largest asteroid is called Ceres. It is about a quarter the size of the Moon and orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter in a region called the asteroid belt.
Unlike most asteroids, Ceres is spherical. Ceres was discovered by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801 when he was looking for a planet predicted to be between Mars and Jupiter. It was the first discovered asteroid. This is a dwarf planet.
8- What is the asteroid belt?
The asteroid belt is the region of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where most of the asteroids in our solar system are found orbiting the sun. The asteroid belt probably contains millions of asteroids.
Astronomers think the asteroid belt is made up of material that could never have formed into a planet, or the remnants of a planet that broke apart a long time ago. Asteroids in the asteroid belt come in a wide variety of sizes.
Some of them are very small (less than a km across), while others are quite large. The largest asteroid is called Ceres, about a quarter the size of our moon. This is a dwarf planet.
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