Asteroid Belt

The Asteroid Belt is actually the space between Mars and Jupiter where it consists of irregularly shaped chunks of debris called asteroids. Asteroids are also known as minor planets because they are basically pieces of a planet that was never formed. Therefore, scientists came up with a theory that states that the gravitational pull exerted by Jupiter and Mars has prevented these pieces from bonding together. So this planet was never created.

The asteroids are most composed of rock and metal, which are commonly nickel and iron. A rough estimation of the number of asteroids contained within the Asteroid Belt amounts to nearly 100,000 of which 12,000 of it have been named. However only a few of these ‘minor planets’ (asteroids) were visited by spacecraft. The asteroids are classified based on their sizes, shapes of their orbits and spectral characteristics which are essentially their colour and brightness.

Generally, asteroids are categorised in three different groups which are the C-type, S-type and M-type. The C-type refers to carbonaceous elements. This is also where most of the asteroid fall into and is estimated to be about 75% of the total. These asteroids are very dark and orbits in the outer region of the Asteroid Belt.

S-type or silicaceous asteroids are roughly found in 17% of the entire asteroids. They are fairly bright because they are able to partially reflect light. They also orbit in the inner regions of the belt. The M-type or metallic asteroids are found to be in the mid region of the belt. They are mostly composed of metallic iron and therefore reflect a significant amount of light causing it to appear bright.

Since, the asteroids are in constant motion; they also collide frequently causing large asteroids to break up into smaller pieces. When asteroids do collide, they tend to be kicked out of their orbit. When that happens, those asteroids float around in space until it gets pulled by a planet’s gravitational pull. Scientists estimate about 1 km of asteroids are thrown out of orbit annually. So don’t be surprised when you see a huge rock tumbling down from up above the sky.

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