Welcome to the first bit of a six-part-long series on all things space! Each month, a new article featuring a fascinating aspect of space will be uploaded. From asteroids to comets to stars – anything and everything will be included! Read carefully, for when the series comes to an end, there will be a Super Trivia to test your knowledge on space. Happy Reading!
Today, we are going to take a look at asteroids. These are rocky objects that orbit the sun, quite like how planets do, though asteroids are much smaller. They were formed over 4 billion years ago, from the leftovers of the solar system’s birth. The asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is the home of most of the asteroids.
Here is a fun fact about asteroids – the highest mountain known to man is an asteroid called Vesta – it is 22 km high which makes it roughly three times larger than Mt. Everest.
Many people worry that since asteroids are freely moving about in space, occasionally one might hit Earth. However, there is hardly any reason to fear. Although it is theoretically possible for asteroids to hit Earth, the chances are very, very low. An asteroid the size of a car enters the Earth’s atmosphere every year, but before it has a chance to do any real damage, it burns up.
Furthermore, scientists are always on the lookout for incoming asteroids, and if there was any danger of an impact, they would know years in advance. We would have plenty of time to prepare.
That doesn’t mean that an asteroid has never hit earth. 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Earth near modern-day Mexico. This happened around the same time when dinosaurs went extinct which has led scientists to believe it was the asteroid that killed them. This is known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, and has resulted in the extinction of several other species as well.
For years, humans have been trying to understand the many marvels of space, and asteroids are just one of them. Technological advancements in recent times have made understanding the universe even simpler, and many new wonders, such as asteroids are just waiting to be uncovered by man. Who knows what we might find next?
By: Hamna Salman