Thursday, March 18, 2010
The asteroid belt.
So we've been to Mars, very impressive indeed. Next up is Jupiter, but there is a slight obstacle called the asteroid belt in the way. Actually we've already had unmanned space craft fly through it and nothing hit it, but that asteroid belt is still cool to talk about, hence today's blog.
The asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. While it's impressive to see a huge belt of rocks all floating around an orbit in our solar system, it is estimated that if you took all those rocks and combined them together, they wouldn't even come close to the size of our moon. Just a little pocket of space dust on the grand scheme of things.
The largest known asteroid in the asteroid belt is nearly 600 miles in diameter, it's basically called a dwarf planet. I'd say if that thing ever decided to hurl toward the earth we'd be slightly fucked.
It is believed that the asteroid belt is basically just a bunch or rocks that never quite made it to becoming part of a planet when our solar system was born. Not enough gravitational pull, not in the right orbit ... basically not in the right place at the right time. Our solar system was born in the area of this asteroid belt, in fact everything inside the belt is called the inner solar system, and everything outside the belt is called the outer solar system.
Here's an interesting asteroid factoid : The biggest asteroid to hit the Earth this century was in Siberia on June 30, 1908. The rock was about 100,000 tons and the size of a large house. It shattered in the air, while about four miles from the ground, creating an explosion 2,000 times stronger than an atomic bomb! It demolished thousands of square miles of forestation.
I guess one day two large asteroids could collide, sending one of them spiraling on a direct path to earth and wipe us out of existence. But since Mars and Jupiter are closer than we are, and they are both still around, I'd say it's safe to assume that when I wake up tomorrow, we'll all still be here.
Since I'm talking about asteroids .... HERE is a cool game that I've spent countless hours playing back in the good old days. High-tech electronic entertainment to say the least.