Printer Friendly

First Asteroid Ever Discovered Is Actually A Dwarf Planet.

The first asteroid discovered in the solar system took an entire year to nail down. It was Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt.

When it was first spotted shortly into 1801, scientists didn't know what to make of the object or how to track it in the night sky, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKMWqOfbGME) TED-Ed explains in a video (below). Astronomers were stumped for months and could not find Ceres once they lost sight of it. It took a new mathematical model for predicting orbits before they were able to pinpoint it again, with its re-discovery taking place on the last day of the year.

"Ceres is a very large asteroid but through a telescope ... Ceres looked like a pinpoint of light similar to a star," according to the video. "We haven't lost track of it since."

Since its discovery more than 200 years ago, Ceres, which is about 600 miles across, has since been upgraded to a dwarf planet - the only one in the inner solar system. It has also had a visitor: NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered Ceres' neighborhood in 2015 and was the first craft to visit a dwarf planet.

"Even though Ceres comprises 25 percent of the asteroid belt's total mass, tiny Pluto is still 14 times more massive," according to (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/ceres) NASA.

Our understanding of asteroids has expanded tremendously since 1801 - as has the count of asteroids scientists have discovered. That number is in the several thousands.

"We must keep searching for asteroids in case there's one out there on a collision course with Earth," according to TED-Ed.

NASA, with help from other organizations, (http://www.ibtimes.com/incoming-asteroid-test-nasa-using-planetary-defense-system-during-flyby-2571973) spends a good amount of time on preventing such a collision. That involves searching the sky for new asteroids and planning responses to asteroid emergencies. (http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-would-armageddon-asteroid-coming-earth-2573182) Contingency plans for avoiding a devastating asteroid crash include detonating a bomb on the space rock's surface in the style of "Armageddon" and using gravity to draw it into a new course.

The space agency also (http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-asteroid-mission-uses-earths-gravity-slingshot-2593075) recently sent its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to a 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid named Bennu because, due to its age, it may hold clues about the formation of the solar system.

COPYRIGHT 2018 IBT Media, formerly dba International Business Times
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jan 15, 2018
Words:381
Previous Article:Republican Governor Candidate Wants To Fix NYC Subway By Legalizing Marijuana.
Next Article:This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Fast Food.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters