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Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. There are lots of asteroids in our solar system. Most of them live in the main asteroid belt—a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
See the fact file below for more information on the asteroids or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Asteroid worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first asteroid that he believed to be a new planet. He named the newfound object Ceres. This was followed by the discovery of other similar bodies that appeared to be points of light, like stars, showing little or no planetary disc, though readily distinguishable from stars due to their apparent motions. This prompted the astronomer, Sir William Herschel, to propose the term “asteroid” meaning ‘star-like, star-shaped’.
- Asteroids, sometimes called as “minor planets”, are rocky remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
- The current known asteroid count is: 794,122.
- Some asteroids go in front of and behind Jupiter. They are called Trojans. Asteroids that come close to Earth are called Near Earth Objects, NEOs for short. NASA keeps a close watch on these asteroids.
- Most of this ancient space rubble can be found orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt. Asteroids range in size from Vesta – the largest at about 329 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter – to bodies that are less than 33 feet (10 meters) across.
- Most asteroids are irregularly shaped, though a few are nearly spherical, and they are often pitted or cratered. As they revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, the asteroids also rotate, sometimes quite erratically, tumbling as they go. More than 150 asteroids are known to have a small companion moon (some have two moons). There are also binary (double) asteroids, in which two rocky bodies of roughly equal size orbit each other, as well as triple asteroid systems.
- Most asteroids in our solar system are found in the main asteroid belt, a region between Mars and Jupiter. But they can also hang out in other locations around the solar system. For example, some asteroids orbit the Sun in a path that takes them near Earth.
- Sometimes one asteroid can smash into another. This can cause small pieces of the asteroid to break off. Those pieces are called meteoroids.
COMPOSITION OF ASTEROID
- The three broad composition classes of asteroids are C-, S-, and M-types.
- The C-type (chondrite) asteroids are most common, probably consist of clay and silicate rocks, and are dark in appearance. They are among the most ancient objects in the solar system.
- The S-types (“stony”) are made up of silicate materials and nickel-iron.
- The M-types are metallic (nickel-iron). The asteroids’ compositional differences are related to how far from the sun they formed. Some experienced high temperatures after they formed and partly melted, with iron sinking to the center and forcing basaltic (volcanic) lava to the surface.
TYPES OF ASTEROID
- Asteroids are made mostly of rock — with some composed of clay and silicate — and different metals, mostly nickel and iron. There are many different types of asteroids, and they are classified according to their reflectance spectra or how well they will reflect different wavelengths of light.
- Generally, there are three main types of asteroids:
- Dark C (carbonaceous) asteroids, which make up most asteroids and are in the outer belt. They’re believed to be close to the Sun’s composition, with little hydrogen, helium, or other “volatile” elements.
- Bright S (silicaceous) asteroids and are in the inner belt, closer to Mars. They tend to be metallic iron with some silicates of iron and magnesium.
- Bright M (metallic) asteroids sit in the middle of the asteroid belt and are mostly made up of metallic iron.
CLASSIFICATIONS OF ASTEROID
- Main Asteroid Belt: The majority of known asteroids orbit within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, generally with shorter orbits. The belt is estimated to contain between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in diameter, and millions of smaller ones.
- Trojans: These asteroids share an orbit with a larger planet, but do not collide with it because they gather around two special places in the orbit (called the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points). There, the gravitational pull from the sun and the planet are balanced by a trojan’s tendency to otherwise fly out of the orbit.
- Near-Earth Asteroids: These objects have orbits that pass close by that of the Earth. Asteroids that actually cross Earth’s orbital path are known as Earth-crossers. As of June 19, 2013, 10,003 near-Earth asteroids have been found and the number over 1 kilometer in diameter is thought to be 861, with 1,409 classified as potentially hazardous asteroids – those that could pose a threat to Earth.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about asteroids across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Asteroid worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the asteroids which are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. There are lots of asteroids in our solar system. Most of them live in the main asteroid belt—a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Asteroids and Meteors Facts
- Crossword Puzzle
- Asteroid Vs Meteor
- The Formation
- Planet Ceres?
- List It Down
- Types of Asteroid I
- Types of Asteroid II
- It’s A Meteor
- The Asteroid Belt
- What’s New?
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Link will appear as Asteroid Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 29, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.