Asteroids


     In
our solar system today there are over 30 000 asteroids flying around in all
directions colliding with other asteroids and planets not caring about the
destruction they might convey. Our planet Earth is caught right in the middle of
all of this action and is liable to entire extinction of any life forms on the
planet if a large enough asteroid crosses its path. Any one single asteroid has
the possibility to erase thousands of years of history and wipeout the human
race as we know it. Asteroids are large or small chunks of rock and metal flying
around space up to speeds of 80 000 km/h. These chunks were believed to have
formed millions of years ago during the "big bang". These rocks
didnít form any planets and were stuck floating around space on their own or
in the gravitation of the asteroid belt. This belt is approximately 300 million
miles from the Sun and it contains thousands of asteroids some being miles in
diameter. Another theory of the formation of asteroids is that a planet between

Mars and Jupiter once existed and after many years it exploded into thousands of
pieces that are still revolving around the sun in the form of an asteroid belt.

Other asteroids are formed when large meteors collide with large asteroids
creating more small ones. These meteors can also collide with planets breaking
off chunks of the crust into space. Ceres is believed to be the biggest asteroid
that was in space at one point in time. Ceres was believed to be 600 miles wide
making up 1/3 of the total mass of all asteroids. Ceres was the first asteroid
discovered and was found in 1801. There are two main types of asteroids; the
first dominates the outer part of the belt and are found to be rich in carbon,
the second group are located in the inside of the belt and are found to be rich
in minerals. The average temperature of the surface of an asteroid is
approximately -73 degrees C. Many people donít know that every year over 50

000 small asteroids called meteors hit the Earth every year. These meteors are
the outside layer of larger asteroids that have been chipped off or are the
surface of other planets that have detached from their positions when hit with
larger asteroids. Asteroids sometimes align with Earth when meteors flying
through space collide with other asteroids in the belt causing pieces to break
off and head in all directions. Sometimes these pieces just happen to get
aligned with Earth. However, scientists are trying to discover a way in which
they can detonate a nuclear bomb close to the asteroid causing it to change
rotation and therefore change its course. This is very dangerous because if the
asteroid explodes it will make even more of a mess when hundreds of pieces are
then on course with the Earth. Asteroids are found all over space but are most
abundant in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This belt holds about

2000 asteroids all of different shapes and sizes. This belt has its own
gravitational pull and all of the asteroids in it revolve around the Sun. It is
believed that this belt was formed when planet X exploded. Although the majority
of asteroids are found in this belt and are generally stuck in its gravitational
pull, they are sometimes jarred from their positions from the impact of other
asteroids that are constantly floating through space. Although asteroids could
destroy Earth if they come in contact with it, small meteors that hit Earth are
found to be great discoveries. These small space rocks that have been chipped
off of other planets such as Saturn or Mars are a great way of studying other
planets surfaces without having to travel millions of miles for samples. They
come to us. If it wasnít for asteroids hitting the Earth, we might not be here
today. Millions of years ago when the Earth was forming it was a giant ball made
of liquid molten. Over a long period of time asteroids hit the Earth at
tremendous velocities causing them to join the molten and create a crust for
life. After many years of this, the Earth was formed from hundreds of asteroids
combined into one large planet. Asteroids are found to be one of the most
fascinating and dangerous things in space. This is because it is difficult to
spot every asteroid close to our planet and at any time an asteroid may be
spotted very close to Earth with too short a notice to stop it. Asteroid
tracking should be very important to the world and more time and money should be
put into it. These objects could mean the end of mankind all together. Today we
find over 150 craters on our planet some being a few kilometers in diameter. If
asteroids this big hit our planet today many living things would be destroyed
within thousands of miles of the impact point. This shows us evidence that many
asteroids have collided with this planet in the past that could have ended
civilization. Today there is known to be about 163 asteroids that are flying
through our solar system that are found hazardous to Earth. In 1997 a mile wide
asteroid passed within the distance of the Earth and the Moon when it came 40

000 km from hitting us. This seems to be a lot of room to spare but it isnít
when you take into account the vast amount of space in our solar system.

Scientists believe that an asteroid is going to be the closest to Earth on

October 26, 2028. Because of the danger asteroids pose NASA funded a program
called space watch to try and track asteroids close to Earth. All together NASA
spends about $3.5 million US tracking asteroids. This gets very difficult
because it takes 10 to 30 years of notice to track an asteroid on its way
towards Earth. Asteroids are classified as hazardous if theyíre bigger than 1
km wide and found within 8 million kilometers of Earth. It is very probable that
a large asteroid will hit the Earth in the future because of the planetís past
experience with asteroid collisions. Scientists estimate that an asteroid more
than 800 m in diameter hits the Earth every million years and a smaller one hits
every century. An asteroid bigger than 1 km would mean the end of about 30% of
the Worldís population. This size of an asteroid would be the equivalent
explosion to 2 million Hiroshima bombs. This explosion would wipeout population
by the destruction of all living creatures within a hundred mile radius as well
as blocking off the Sun with dust and rock particles for weeks or even months.

Asteroids are probably the deadliest force that our solar system can produce,
one strike could put man back in the dark ages and would kill almost the entire
population of our planet. It is for this reason that scientists should focus
more on understanding asteroids and research more into the defense of our
planet. At the moment we only know where a fraction of the asteroids out there
are. The asteroid that could destroy our planet could only be a year away and we
donít even know it exists.