In our solar system today there are over 30,000 asteroids flying around in all directions colliding with other asteroids, planets and celestial bodies. Our planet Earth is caught right in the middle of all this action and is liable to an entire extinction of any life forms on the planet if a large enough asteroid crosses its path (Kaku). A single asteroid can possibly erase thousands of years of history and wipeout life on Earth.
Sixty-Five million years ago, an asteroid nearly six miles wide slammed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and blasted debris into the atmosphere. When the dust cloud settled, a 110 miles wide crater scarred the Earth. A large number of marine and terrestrial creatures became extinct. Some scientists believe that more than 70% of life on Earth died during that time.
Asteroids are rocky, airless worlds that orbit our sun, small Solar System bodies that are not comets, and historically referred to objects inside the orbit of Jupiter. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth's moon. But despite their size, asteroids can be dangerous (John). These small rocky worlds were believed to have formed billions 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 away from the Sun and it contains thousands of asteroids some being miles in diameter (Harvey).
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 (chunks of rocks, or small asteroids) collide with large asteroids creating more small ones. These meteors can also collide with planets breaking off chunks of the crust into space.
According to NASA official, Brian Dunbar, Ceres is believed to be the biggest asteroid that was in space at one point in time. Scientists believed it was 600 miles wide making up 1/3 of the total mass of all asteroids. Ceres could almost cover an area the size of Alaska. 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 negative 73 degrees C.
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 (Rowe). 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 substances. 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 (Plait).
Some asteroids contain water, carbon and other things that are necessary to support life. There is a theory that asteroids that were carrying water carbon and other things to support life, brought these to Earth billions of years ago, and started life on Earth. 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