Asteroids, a type of space rocks, are minor planets of the Solar System. They revolve around the sun but are too small to be called planets themselves. Hence, they are known as planetoids or minor planets. In the solar system, there are a plethora of asteroids ranging in different sizes and shapes. However, one feature that is common in all asteroids is that their total mass is less than that of Earth’s moon.
During the formation of the Jupiter, about 4.6 billion years ago, the planet inhibited the creation of any planetary bodies between the gaps of Mars and Jupiter. As a result, these small objects were forced to collide with one another. They combined with each other to be made into what is called as asteroids today.
Almost all the asteroids are abnormally shaped but the largest ones are nearly spherical, such as Ceres. The surface of most asteroids is known to be covered with dust. Scientific studies show that more than 150 asteroids have a small moon attached to them while some have even two moons. Some are made from piles of rubble, clasped together by the gravity. These asteroids consist of large quantities of carbon molecules, rocks, and metals. Their composition is similar to the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that fall on Earth sometimes.
The estimated temperature of the surface of an asteroid is below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is believed that asteroids have largely stayed the same for billions of years. They can be found within three regions of the solar system. However, most asteroids reside between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. More than 200 asteroids, larger than 60 miles in diameter, are present in the main asteroid belt. Scientists report that the asteroid belt can hold about 1.1 million and 1.9 million asteroids (larger than 1 km in diameter) along with millions of small ones.
Scientists believe that stray asteroids and fragments have fallen onto Earth in the past. This occurrence had played a huge role in the evolution of planet – Earth. However, if asteroids slammed into Earth again, loads of dust would surround the planet. This would result in dust storms and severe changes in the atmosphere. If they land in the water, there would be an increase in water vapor in the surrounding area. This in turn, will result in excessive rain, landslides, and mudslides.
About the Author:
A former Computer Systems Engineer Amita Vadlamudi, is the author of many articles and blog posts. Ancient history, Astronomy, nature and earth sciences are some of Amita Vadlamudi’s favorite subjects.