By Patricia Barnes-Svarney
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Additional info for Asteroid: Earth Destroyer or New Frontier?
8 astronomical units from the Sun, it was one of the first definite clues that the region between Mars and Jupiter held more than just one minor planet. Olbers was one of the first to ask if Ceres and Pallas always traveled in their current orbits in the same proximity or were they part of the debris of a former and larger planet-a planet that exploded in a major catastrophe. 6 Other findings followed, including 3 Juno, by Karl Ludwig Harding in 1804, and 4 Vesta, by Olbers in 1807. By this time, astronomers knew the group of small rocks in the sky were not like the larger planets.
Some of the material was ejected into interstellar space by Jupiter's gravitational influence, while other material wandered the solar system in chaotic orbits and eventually collided with larger planetary bodies. HOLDING THE MAIN-BELT At a casual glance, today's asteroid main-belt seems so orderly: The majority of the asteroids revolve around the Sun counterclockwise, in the same direction as the principal planets. 3 astronomical units from the Sun. Like a tightly packed swarm of bees, the asteroids within the main-belt stay in their "place," at least for the most part.
But it is difficult to verify, because apparently only a few of the meteorites found on Earth originated from these two bodies. ) In reality, the formation of asteroids at the dawn of the solar system makes these rocky bodies the most sought-after pieces of planetary history in the system, true planetesimals that represent the very beginnings of our system. But why did the asteroids elect not to form a planet? BLAMING JUPITER We all know the saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," and in the case of Jupiter, it appears to be the same: The large planet gathered much of the solar system's extra material.
Asteroid: Earth Destroyer or New Frontier? by Patricia Barnes-Svarney