N12 – Experts explain asteroids

N12 - Experts explain asteroids

Since the beginning of mankind, humans have been trying to understand what is happening above them, in the sky. First with observations without technology and with the help of binoculars and special equipment for years. Over the next few decades, with the leap of technology, astronomers and researchers were able to better understand the infinite space around us. Asteroids are one of the most important topics in space exploration – how many of them are there and what not to do Will fall to the ground. On the occasion of the International Asteroid Day, Dr. NASA. Elliott Perez answered some of the most interesting questions in this area.

This is how asteroids are formed

About 4.6 billion years ago, when a cloud of dust and gas formed our sun, some of the remaining material was used to create the planets and gas giants that now orbit the sun. Asteroids are smaller rocks than planets, formed from the remains of matter or collisions between ancient objects in the Solar System and orbiting it today. Asteroids often differ from comets, whereas asteroids have a combination of minerals and rock, and comets are filled with snow and dust. Meteors, on the other hand, vary in size and are less than a meter in diameter.

A meteorite that crashed and caused damage in Russia | Photo: Reuters

What is their size and how many are there?

The first asteroid to be discovered in 1801 was “Sears”, which is suspected to be a planet due to its size (940 km in diameter), and the smallest scientifically researched asteroid is TC25, about two meters wide.
Asteroids can be found throughout the Solar System, but primarily in the “asteroid belt” between Mars and Jupiter, and in gravitational “equilibrium” near the planets and moons, and near Jupiter, similar to the Trojan belts. As of March 2020, we know that there are more than one million asteroids.

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Why do we study them?

Scientifically, since asteroids are a kind of “archaeological remains” of the solar system, they can be traced back to the processes that shaped and still shape our solar system. Governments around the world see asteroids as a major source of damage to the Earth, so they place great importance on predicting or preventing Earth damage and tracking and mapping resources. Recently, there has been a growing interest in asteroids for resource mining purposes, some of which are estimated by various factors to be close to the overall global economy.

Telescope (Photo: Daphna Emeron, Shutterstock)
With the help of telescopes everyone can study asteroids | Photo: Daphne Emeron, Shutterstock

Have we ever been to an asteroid?

Asteroid detection and exploration are carried out using a variety of scientific instruments, from mapping their surface with radar to analyzing their structure with telescopes using spectra and direct imaging. When it was discovered in 1999, asteroids aroused much interest in the scientific community. For the 2018 US space agency “Asteroid”‘s Riogo asteroid and the Osiris-Rex space mission, these missions were built to take samples from Earth and bring them back to Earth for research purposes.

Are we involved in research?

Various space agencies, universities, and public and private observatories around the world enable the active participation of the public in various programs for locating, documenting, and characterizing asteroids. As part of our program to track objects near Earth and the asteroid belt and the Pan-Stars program, this year the US space agency presented certificates of appreciation to several citizens around the world, including student Nama Asil mapping two asteroids.

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Dr. Elliott Peretz, Astronaut Task Leader, Astronaut Program, Technician Graduate and NASA Medal of Excellence | Photo: NASA

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