Asteroids are rocks without air. They were created during the big bang about 4.6 billion years ago! Meteorites (pieces of asteroids that land on Earth) help scientists study the history of planets and the Sun.
While there are 1,282,499 asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, their total mass (meaning how much matter a body has) is less than the Moon!
These asteroids are broadly divided into three categories: C-type (pronounced as con-drait) asteroids likely consist of silicate and clay and are dark in colour; S-type (stony) asteroids are made of silicate materials and nickel-iron; M-types (metallic) are made of nickel-iron.
The Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics maintains a record of asteroid names. Check it out here!
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx landed on asteroid Bennu in 2018 to collect dust and rock samples. The spacecraft is expected to come back to Earth in September 2023.
Chariklo, an asteroid with two rings, orbits between Saturn and Uranus. It was the first asteroid found with a ring system!
243 Ida that orbits between Mars and Jupiter is the first asteroid known to have its own moon!
On 13 April 2029, the asteroid Apophis will pass less than 32,000 km from the Earth’s surface. People in the eastern hemisphere will be able to see it without telescopes or binoculars!