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In our solar system today there are over 30,000 asteroids flying around in all direction colliding with other asteroids and planets, without a care 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 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 asteroid 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 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 procedure is potentially very
dangerous because if the asteroid explodes it will make even more of a mess when hundreds of
pieces are then on course towards Earth.
Asteroids are found all over space but are most abundant in the asteroid belt between
Mars and Jupiter; which is believed to have formed when Planet X exploded. This belt holds
about 2000 asteroids, all of different shapes and sizes. The asteroid belt has its own
gravitational pull and all of the asteroids in it revolve around the Sun. 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.
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
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. 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 is 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
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 cause 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.