“Asteroids, what are asteroids? An asteroid is a small rocky body orbiting the sun. Asteroids come in different diameters, dimensions, and sizes. There are about 40,000 known asteroids that are over 0.5 miles diameter in the asteroid belt. The main asteroid belt holds more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles in diameter. Scientists estimate the asteroid belt also contains more than 750,00 asteroids larger than three fifths of a mile. There are also many small asteroids. The first asteroid discovered and the biggest is Ceres. Ceres is the size of Texas. The asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Asteroids are made of rock and metal and broken away pieces of planets. They are grouped into three categories. The categories are Stony, Iron-Nickel, and the two mixed together. Most of the asteroids are stony and a small percentage are nickel. The origin of the asteroid belt is material that never combined to become a planet. Some people believe that asteroids are made of rocky bits left over from the formation of the inner planets.
Many regions of the asteroid belt have been cleared of asteroids by effects on the planet Jupiter. A scientist named Daniel Kirkwood discovered this and he named the regions cleared of asteroids the Kirkwood Gaps. Jupiter comes into contact with asteroids every two orbits. The asteroids and Jupiter get in the same relative positions and then the volcanic gases on Jupiter destroy the asteroids.
Some asteroids have moons and some don’t. The asteroids that have moons are called co-orbiting binaries. Asteroids can become moons because they are both made out of rock. Asteroids with moons are very new to astronomy. Asteroids with moons were only discovered about 20 years ago.
Have you ever wondered what an asteroid could cause if it impacted where you live? It could cause unimaginable damage! It could cause shock waves, tsunamis, and much more destruction. If you were close to an asteroid when it impacted, you could be severely injured or die.
Scientists have discovered more than 90,000 asteroids. Asteroids rarely cross path with Earth. However, asteroids could be heading towards Earth right now. There are missions planned to track asteroids. Once you’ have found an asteroid you can predict when it will impact Earth.