Asteroids – Infographic
2018-08-30 - Quick facts about asteroids, our solar system's cosmic time capsules. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)
What are they? Asteroids are small rocky or metallic bodies that orbit the Sun. They can range in size from less than 1 cm to hundreds of kilometres. Some asteroids have their own moons. Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
What are they made of? They are made of rock, metals, and other materials. Some even contain water!
There are three common types: Carbon-rich, rocky, and metallic. Carbon-rich asteroids are dark, contain carbon, and look like charcoal. Rocky asteroids have a stony texture, contain silicate materials and iron, and look like dark rocks. Metallic asteroids have a shiny appearance, contain nickel and iron, and look like steel.
Where are they? Near-Earth asteroids are located 150 million km from the Sun. Most asteroids are located in the Main Belt, between Mars and Jupiter, 330 to 480 million km from the Sun.
Why do we study them? We study asteroids to learn what types of materials existed billions of years ago in order to understand the formation and evolution of the planets. Some of the material trapped inside asteroids might be the building blocks of life.
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