Asteroids: A Three Minute Read

Introducing a new category here on myknowledge!

The Bite Size Version!

A Nibble of kNowledge!

It doesn’t need a cute name because all you care about is that it is a three minute read! (Two if you are a fast reader. Ten seconds for you speed readers!)

Today’s topic is asteroids. The first asteroid was discovered in 1801. Not surprisingly, it was Ceres. Which is also the largest asteroid. Clocking in at approximately 580 miles it is considered a dwarf planet. It hangs out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. (Even NASA’s website quotes more than one figure for how many miles Ceres is. Between 580 and 600 miles seems to be the estimate.)

Millions of asteroids are in the asteroid belt. They range in size from a meter across to 580ish miles. For fun you can check out their names here! Some of them look stuffy, but there are some gems in there like Mr. Spock and Monty Python.

The asteroid belt is a long way from Earth and most asteroids stay in that area. Every so often one of them gets knocked out and can come close to earth and become classified as Near Earth Objects. These are the ones that people are worried about hitting Earth.

How likely is it that an asteroid will hit Earth? The most famous asteroid (or comet) to hit Earth was the one that killed the dinosaurs. Scientists are working to keep tabs on the Near Earth Objects and estimate that there are less than a thousand that could cause global damage if they impact with the Earth. That may not seem like a lot, but space is huge and some of these objects are still thousands of miles away from us.

I wouldn’t worry about an asteroid hitting Earth and causing any significant damage. I googled some probability charts that you need a degree in astrophysics to interpret. Which I am taking to mean that we shouldn’t worry about it. No matter that documentaries like to compare impacts of large ones to atomic bombs. Scientists are also monitoring them and getting more and more accurate at being able to detect their path.

Congress requires NASA to keep track of any that are larger than one kilometer because that is the size that is thought could cause serious global implications.

Here are a few fun facts about asteroids:

-Some of them have moons! More than 150 of them. A few have two moons. None of them appear to have rings, though. Which is too bad, because that is definitely the hottest planetary accessory.

-Scientists estimate that once a year an asteroid will hit earth, but it disintegrates before impact.

-They have no atmosphere and no life as we know it. But, they are important for scientists to study because it tells us a lot about the beginnings of our solar system.

-Asteroids appear to consist of rocky material and metal like nickel-iron. Some of them are believed to have ice. Doesn’t sound like a very appealing place to put a space colony.

-The asteroid that hit Russia in 2013 was about 15 meters and ended up injuring over a thousand people.



3 thoughts on “Asteroids: A Three Minute Read

  1. Pingback: Packing for Mars [Book Review] |

  2. Pingback: How Bad Do You Smell? [Three Minute Read] |

  3. Pingback: Wasps [Three Minute Read] |

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