why do scientists study comets meteoroids and asteroids

Asteroids formed at about the same time as the solar system did. Jupiter formed very early in the history of the solar system, and its incredible size and the accompanying gravity this size creates caused the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars to form. Without Jupiterвs gravitational influence, these rocks would have eventually coalesced into a planet. An asteroid is thought to have struck the Earth approximately 65 million years ago, striking the Yucatan Peninsula in present day Mexico.


This asteroid impact caused an enormous explosion, which altered the Earthвs climate for years. Many paleontologists suspect that this impact was the primary cause for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The largest known asteroid is Ceres, with a diameter of approximately 583 miles. Millions of tiny asteroids exist, but most do not have names. The smallest named asteroid, called 1991 BA, is only about 20-feet across.
Comets and Asteroids travel the solar system for the same reason the plants do, they just follow a different path.


Asteroids are mostly orbiting the sun in between Earth and Mars in the Asteroid belt. While planets follow an elliptical path, comets follow a more elongated one. Comets that orbit the sun once every 200 years are called short period comets, for example the comet Haley. The comets that have orbital periods longer than 200 years are called long period comets and spend more time out by the Oort cloud.


Since the sun is the body in our solar system with the greatest amount of mass it attracts all other bodies with smaller masses to it. One important formula to keep in mind is Newtons Universal law describing gravitation, F= G(M*m)/r^2, Where F is the attractive gravitational force between two objects of mass M and m separated by a distance r. G is just a constant. This is why comets and asteroids travel around the solar system and more specifically our sun! :)

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