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Term paper on Asteroids

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Term paper on Asteroids

Post  MBAstudent on Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:15 am

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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 wasn’t 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 isn’t 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 they’re 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 planet’s 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 World’s 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 don’t even know it exists.


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