Asteriods Essay, Research Paper
Asteroids are some of the many small or minor planets in the solar system that move in oval shaped orbits mostly between Mars and Jupiter.
The largest of all asteroids is Ceres, with a diameter of 1030 km. Pallas and Vesta are next with diameters of 550 km each. In all, there are about 200 asteroids with diameters of more than 97 km with thousands of other smaller ones. Though plentiful, the Moon’s mass still belittles the total mass of all asteroids in the solar system. The larger bodies tend to have a spherical shape while those with diameters less than 160 km can be elongated and irregular. Regardless of the size of the asteroids, most rotate on their axis every 5-20 hours. Some asteroids may even have their own satellites.
A common misconception is that asteroids are remains of a former planet. It is more likely that asteroids fill space in the solar system where a planet could have formed but was prohibited from doing due to the large gravitational force from Jupiter. The asteroid population is growing due to collisions in the asteroid belt.
Some asteroids, which venture closer to earth, are easy targets for space missions. Close-up pictures of 951 Gaspra were taken by NASA’s Galileo space probe while en-route to Jupiter. The pictures revealed the lopsided body to be pockmarked with craters and covered by a blanket of loose fragments on the asteroid’s surface.
With the everlasting threat of world destruction, it is imperative for us to continue our research into space and its components. Earth’s diminutive size in relation to the galaxy leaves it in continuous danger for its existence. Ceasing investigation into the unknown realms of the universe will place our world in jeopardy. We will not be able to predict and prevent possible monstrous disasters and possibly Armageddon.
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Terence Dickinson and Jack Newton. Splendors of the Universe. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books 1997