Wednesday, November 25, 2020

This International Asteroid Day, learn more about asteroids

Reading Time: 2 minutes
International Asteroid Day

Asteroids may just seem like floating space rocks, but they’re actually far more interesting than this. Every year, 30 June marks International Asteroid Day, a day co-founded by big names like Stephen Hawking, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Scheweickart, and astrophysicist/ guitarist Brian May.

This International Asteroid Day, here’s a crash-course into these fascinating space objects:

  1. Asteroids, comets, and meteors are not the same thing!

While these words are often used synonymously, they are actually very different things. An asteroid is a small, inactive rock orbiting the Sun while a comet is a small, icy object with an atmosphere of dust and gas that vapourises in sunlight. A meteoroid is a small particle from an asteroid or a comet.

This means a meteor or a ‘shooting star’ is a meteoroid that enters Earth’s atmosphere. A meteorite is a meteoroid that survives Earth’s atmosphere to land on Earth’s surface.

  • Asteroids aren’t capable of hosting human life.

Because of their weak gravity, asteroids aren’t even able to hold onto an atmosphere. In fact, they’re so small that the mass of all the asteroids in the Solar System is less than our moon, according to NASA. Some observations have shown ‘gullies’ on the surface of asteroids that may have been carved by water, but those claims are still being investigated.

  • Asteroids are leftovers of the early Solar System.

Asteroids are said to be leftovers from the formation of our solar system over 4 billion years ago. The birth of Jupiter, the largest planet, prevented other planetary bodies from forming between Jupiter and Mars, causing objects there to collide with each other and break off into asteroids. This is where the ‘asteroid belt’ was formed.

International Asteroid Day
  • Asteroids can be dangerous, even civilization threatening.

Dozens of asteroids have been classified as ‘potentially hazardous’. Some of their orbits come close enough to Earth that they could be on the collision course with our planet if their movements are perturbed. If this happens in the next few decades, technology will have to be developed to explode or divert the asteroid. Remember what happened to the dinosaurs?

  • We’ve managed to orbit and land on asteroids!
International Asteroid Day

According to NASA, there are more than 10 spacecrafts that have flown by, orbited, or landed on asteroids. The NEAR Shoemaker mission in 2001 landed on the asteroid Eros while the Dawn mission in 2011 was the first to land on an asteroid. In 2005, Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft was the first to return with samples from an asteroid, Itokawa.

READ ALSO: Saturn’s moon Titan drifting away 100 times faster than thought

Rhea Nath
Rhea Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer, editor, and content creator studying at the University of Sydney.

Related Articles

Indian app to support farmers wins 2020 ‘Call for Code’ challenge

  India-based agri-tech startup AI Farm has been chosen as the Asia Pacific Regional Winner of Call for Code, a competition asked developers to create...

Top 10: Muck up festivals of the world

From fruit to colour to poop, some festivals are simply a celebration of having a messy good time. By FARZANA AHMAD

Virtual Diwali: We’re not going to let COVID ruin our festive season!

  Thank you to those of you who have already registered for Indian Link’s Light Up Your Home Contest (brought to you by WorldRemit). You...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

NSW restrictions eased in time for Christmas

  More people will be allowed to gather both at home and in outdoor public spaces, and smaller hospitality venues can increase their capacity under...
steve smith virat kohli

Kohli, Ashwin, Steve Smith nominated for ICC Player of the Decade

  Indian skipper Virat Kohli, ace off-spinner R Ashwin have been nominated for the prestigious ICC Men's Player of the Decade award. Apart from Kohli and...
pm modi speaking

PM Modi: ‘Frontline workers will be first to get Covid vaccine’

  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that health and frontline workers will get priority when it comes to getting the Covid vaccine when it...
tiger cub

India’s Pilibhit Reserve gets global award for doubling tiger population

  The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) and the Uttar Pradesh Forest department have bagged the first-ever international award, TX2, for doubling the number of tigers...
chitra divakaruni the last queen

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on ‘The Last Queen’ and women empowerment

  Reading about the Kohinoor diamond and how it was taken by the British from Maharaja Dalip Singh and given to Queen Victoria, writer Chitra...