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View Full Version : Dumb question (asteroid orbits and impacts)



MSiferd07
2007-Sep-01, 11:10 AM
I know these are dumb questions, but what are asteroids remnants of exactly? Do they have an orbit, or do they get there speed by passing close to a gravitational pull and slingshoting off it? How feasible is it that an asteroid could impact the earth? What could we really do about it? Is it possible to effect or alter the path of an asteroid?

just curious
Mike

antoniseb
2007-Sep-01, 11:29 AM
Hi MSiferd07, welcome to the BAUT forum.

Your question(s) isn't (aren't) dumb. Others will probably give more detail but here's my quick answers:

1. What are asteroids remnants of exactly?
Asteroids are remnants of the planet creation process. Most are lumps of material that haven't yet joined a planet. Some are shards from collisions of larger bodies.

2. Do they have an orbit?
Each asteroid has its own orbit. In rare cases an asteroid will pass close enough to a planet that the asteroid's orbit gets changed a little (or a lot).

3. How feasible is it that an asteroid could impact the earth?
Very feasible. Small asteroids hit the Earth every 10,000 to a million years. The Tunguska event, and Berringer crater in Arizona are perhaps examples of the small end of that. Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan is near the big end, but that happened 65 million years ago.

4. What could we really do about it?
If there is a small asteroid that will hit the Earth if nothing is done, and we have 50 years notice, all we have to do is change the rock's trajectory so that it moves a few thousand miles differently over that fifty year period. For large asteroids, there isn't really much we can do, but thankfully they are rare.

MSiferd07
2007-Sep-01, 11:40 AM
Wow I had no idea I would get such a quick reply. Thank you so much :)