Cosmos4Kids.com Home Page Universe Galaxies Stars Solar System Solar System Details Exploration Cosmos4Kids Sections Search
Solar System Details
 

Rocky Asteroids

Its a cold and empty universe for a single asteroid orbiting the Sun. Asteroids are different from comets. They are like small pieces of planets. Some asteroids that orbit planets are even considered moons. One of the moons of Mars (Deimos) is only four miles across. In our Solar System, you will find asteroids orbiting the Sun in a regular orbit (not like comets, which have stretched elliptical orbits). There is also an Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The belt holds small pieces of rock that spin around the Sun in a specific orbit. It is almost like a planet that never formed.

Asteroid Structure

Asteroids are made of rocks and metals. Some astronomers consider them to be minor planets (like the moons of Mars and Saturn). Most asteroids are very small but they do have gravity and can affect any objects that come too close. The more iron (Fe) and nickel (Ni) in the makeup of an asteroid, the greater its mass (and gravity). Scientists also use the amount of metal in asteroid classification. Using an infrared sensor, asteroids are classified as light or dark. The lighter ones have more metal than the darker ones.

Traveling Asteroids

Beyond our Solar System, asteroids travel through the galaxy from system to system. These asteroids do not necessarily orbit a star but stars influence their direction and speed. Many astronomers believe that asteroids are pieces from the origins of the universe. Some asteroids were large enough and lucky enough to combine with others and form planets. Some asteroids just continued their existence floating through the universe.

Hitting The Earth

Chances are the Earth doesn't have to worry about a collision with a comet. Asteroids are another matter. Scientists already think that a large asteroid may have hit the Earth when the dinosaurs were alive. That collision may have changed our atmosphere and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

We just told you about that asteroid belt just outside Mars' orbit. There may come a day when one of those asteroids drops out of orbit (maybe from a collision with another asteroid) and heads toward Earth. If it is small enough, it will burn up in the atmosphere. Larger ones will hit the surface of the planet. Hundreds of millions of years ago, collisions with asteroids happened more often. Over time, the number of asteroids in the path of the Earth decreased and collisions became less frequent.

Next Stop On Cosmos4Kids Tour
Next Page on the Solar System.
 
- Introduction
- Solar Wind
- Heliosphere
- Heliopause
- Asteroid Belt
> Asteroids
- Kuiper Belt
- Comets
- Oort Cloud
- Saturn's Moons

-

Solar System Basics

MORE ASTRONOMY TOPICS



Link to Cosmos4Kids.com Link to Biology4Kids.com Link to Chem4Kids.com Link to Geography4Kids.com Link to Physics4Kids.com Link to NumberNut.com Rader Network Side Navigation
 

Playing Tag with an Asteroid (NASA/Goddard Video)
RETURN TO TOP
- or -

Astronomy Quiz

Solar System Quiz

Useful Reference Materials

Encyclopedia.com:
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Asteroids.aspx
Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid
Encyclopædia Britannica:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/39730/asteroid
NASA (Asteroid Initiative):
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/initiative/


 
RELATED LINKS
- Cosmos4Kids: Kuiper Belt
- Chem4Kids: Matter
- Chem4Kids: Astrochemistry
- Chem4Kids: Elements
- Geography4Kids: Earth Energy
- Geography4Kids: Earth Structure
- Geography4Kids: Solar Radiation
- Physics4Kids: Gravity
- Physics4Kids: Acceleration
- Physics4Kids: Magnetic Fields
- Physics4Kids: Light

- NASA: Home Page
- NASA: Kids Home Page
- ESA: Home Page
- ESA: Kids Home Page

  RETURN TO TOP
or
Search for more information...

* The custom search only looks at Rader's sites.
 



Help Page Go for site help or a list of astronomy topics at the site map!
©copyright 1997-2014 Andrew Rader Studios, All rights reserved.
Current Page: Cosmos4Kids.com | Solar System Details | Asteroids


** Andrew Rader Studios does not monitor or review the content available at these web sites. They are paid advertisements and neither partners nor recommended web sites.