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Asteroids are some of the many small or minor planets in the solar system that move in oval shaped orbits mostly between Mars and Jupiter The largest of all asteroids is Ceres with a diameter of 1030 km Pallas and Vesta are next with diameters of 550 km each In all there are about 200 asteroids with diameters of more than 97 km with thousands of other smaller ones Though plentiful the Moons mass still belittles the total mass of all asteroids in the solar system The larger bodies tend to have a spherical shape while those with diameters less than 160 km can be elongated and irregular Regardless of the size of the asteroids most rotate on their axis every 5-20 hours Some asteroids may even have their own satellites A common misconception is that asteroids are remains of a former planet It is more likely that asteroids fill space in the solar system where a planet could have formed but was prohibited from doing due to the large gravitational force from Jupiter The asteroid population is growing due to collisions in the asteroid beltSome asteroids which venture closer to earth are easy targets for space missions Close-up pictures of 951 Gaspra were taken by NASAs Galileo space probe while en-route to Jupiter The pictures revealed the lopsided body to be pockmarked with craters and covered by a blanket of loose fragments on the asteroids surface With the everlasting threat of world destruction it is imperative for us to continue our research into space and its components Earths diminutive size in relation to the galaxy leaves it in continuous danger for its existence Ceasing investigation into the unknown realms of the universe will place our world in jeopardy We will not be able to predict and prevent possible monstrous disasters and possibly ArmageddonBibliographyThe Editors of Time-Life Books Cosmic Mysteries The Voyage Through The Universe Alexandria Virginia Time Inc Book Company 1991Terence Dickinson and Jack
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