Asteroid Amazing Facts

25 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Asteroids | Amazing Facts 4U 

  1. An asteroid is a small body orbiting the Sun that is composed primarily of rock or metal.
  2. Asteroids are amazing celestial objects that hang in our Solar System especially between Mars and Jupiter. This reservoir is known as asteroid belt.
  3. The first asteroid to be discovered was named Ceres seen by Italian astronomer named Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801. It is the largest asteroid being 950 kilometers wide. It has earned the status of a dwarf planet.
  4. Astronomer William Herschel first coined the word asteroid, which means “star like” in 1802.
  5. Asteroids number in millions. For every one that is more than 10km wide, there are 1,000 wider than 1km and a million just 0.1km in width.
  6. There are only around 200 asteroids known that exceed 100 km in diameter
  7. Dark C (carbonaceous) asteroids, make up most asteroids and are in the outer asteroid belt. They’re believed to be close to the Sun’s composition, with little hydrogen or helium or other “volatile” elements.
  8. Bright S (silicaceous) asteroids are in the inner asteroid belt. They tend to be metallic iron with some silicates of iron and magnesium.
  9. Bright M (metallic) asteroids  sit in the middle of the asteroid belt and are mostly made up of metallic iron.
  10. It has been estimated that just one metal rich asteroid could contain more metal than has ever been used by humanity. Estimates for the mineral wealth of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter equate to roughly $100bn for every person on Earth, while the resources available from near-Earth asteroids could support up to 40 times Earth’s population.
  11. Asteroids are as old as our planet Earth or any other planet in our Solar System formed about 4.6 billion years ago sticking together to form larger objects and eventually forming planets and satellites. Some of these objects broke apart on collision and failed to gain mass becoming the asteroids!
  12. Asteroids often collide with each other. Upon collision, smaller ones can break and end up as dust on the larger ones. This dust is known as regolith.
  13. Asteroids are pretty dangerous because collision between asteroids can throw them out of their orbits and set them on a collision course with planets. Earth has experienced numerous asteroid collisions in history.
  14. Collision of asteroids with planets is known as impact event. An impact event can shape the atmosphere of a planet and change its climate. These impact events can be massive.
  15. Not all asteroids that are on collision course with earth will collide on Earth. Most of them are small and destroyed in upper atmosphere .Some burn out and sprinkle on earth in form of cosmic dust. However larger asteroids make it through the atmosphere exploding at 10 to 15 kilometers above the surface. Very few eventually land on earth’s surface.
  16. Those asteroids that crash directly on earth’s surface leave a crater destroying everything in the surrounding area depending upon size. A single very large asteroid is capable of wiping out life from entire earth.
  17. The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 65 million years ago was so big that it left a crater that was 180 kilometers in diameter.
  18. Some scientists even believe that the ancient asteroids that collided with earth during the early stages of development of the planet were actually responsible for bringing water and other carbon-based materials that lead to creation of life on earth.
  19. Not just planets, even asteroids can have moons! The first asteroid that was discovered to have a moon was ‘243 Ida’ and its moon is known by the name ‘dactyl’. The space craft Galileo did a flyby of 243 Ida in 1993 and discovered its moon.
  20. We have flown by, orbited and even landed on asteroids. More than 10 spacecrafts have accomplished at least one of these.
  21. NASA’s Shoemaker touched down and survived for weeks on 433 Eros in 2001 despite not being designed to do it. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spent months orbiting Vesta the second-largest member of the asteroid belt in 2011 and 2012.
  22. In 2010, Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft made an astonishing return to Earth bearing samples of asteroid Itokawa that it nabbed in 2005.
  23. At least one asteroid called Chariklo has rings. The discovery was made in 2013 when two rings were found surrounding the asteroid.
  24. Talking of near earth asteroids (NEAs), these are actually potential threats. NEAs are constantly monitored. Luckily no NEA has posed serious threat to us so far.
  25. In February 2013 there was a close call when an asteroid managed to enter earth’s atmosphere over Russia’s Chelyabinsk city and exploded in sky but sent out shockwaves that caused quite some damage and injured 1,200 people. Scientists say that the asteroid was nearly 65 feet wide.

By Amazing Facts 4U Team

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