Types of asteroid

Most asteroids are known to reside in the asteroid belt but, on occasion, they might be drawn into the inner Solar System, for example when Jupiter knocks them out of their orbits. We can study these near-Earth asteroids as they make their way past us, and we’ve also sent numerous spacecraft to various asteroids to study them in greater detail. Here, we’ve taken a look at the three main types of asteroid we know of to date.


Carbonaceous (C-type) asteroids comprise over 75% of all known asteroids. They are dark with a similar composition to that of the Sun,

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Road to mining asteroids

Planetary Resource’s Chris Lewicki on what we can expect to see in the future.


“The first activities of Planetary Resources actually start in space next year with early demonstrations of some of our commercial technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of this. In about two years’ time we will be putting in orbit around the Earth space telescopes which we can use to discover, characterise and monitor potential asteroid targets that we will then go out and explore in more detail up close.”


“By 2020 I really see us having several spacecraft missions out to a number of

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Of course, like the biggest mountain, the size of asteroids and the limitation of current observational technology mean that the biggest asteroids we know of are restricted to those in our own Solar System. There’s also a technicality in their definition: with a diameter of 950 kilometres (590 miles) and containing around one third of the total mass of the asteroid belt, Ceres used to be the biggest asteroid but was upgraded to ‘dwarf planet’ in 2006, handing fellow asteroid belt object Pallas the accolade of biggest known asteroid by default.

However, with an average diameter of 544

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Missions to mine asteroids


In NASA’s 2013 budget it announced a proposal to capture an asteroid and drag it into a stable lunar orbit to be visited by future astronauts. It might sound far-fetched, but the technology behind it is relatively simple.

The plan is to launch a spacecraft powered by ion thrusters, which will then make its way to an asteroid beyond the Moon. Once reaching its target, the spacecraft would capture the asteroid in a large bag and, over a number of years, move it into a stable orbit around the Moon. This could then be visited and studied by astronauts

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Exploring asteroids with The Dawn spacecraft.

Asteroids are like time machines. So as the Dawn spacecraft visits Vesta and Ceres, scientists are reeling back the years to our Solar System’s beginnings.

Launched in 2007, Dawn’s goal is to bring back photographs and information from two of the asteroid belt’s largest residents: Ceres and Vesta.

Dawn used a ‘gravity assist’ from Mars to get to its first science stop, Vesta, whipping past the Red Planet in February 2009 to pick up speed and soar to its destination.

The spacecraft has an engine on board to kick up additional speed, if needed. Powered by solar panels, it alters

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Asteroid Mining

Several companies have announced plans to harvest the resources of asteroids for use both on Earth and in space, but how would it be done and is it truly feasible?

Written by Jonathan O’Callaghan

For the last year or so asteroid mining has been one of the most talked about topics in space exploration. Not only have two start-up companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries (DSI), announced plans to begin the extraction of resources in the future, but NASA has also revealed its intention to begin the exploration of asteroids and return useful samples to Earth. The public have

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5 Reasons We Need To Mine Asteroids

1 They’re vital to future missions

While we’ve carried out some missions to asteroids we’ve never had a prolonged stay on the surface of an asteroid. Future missions, like NASA’s proposal to capture an asteroid and then visit it, would help us learn how to operate in deep space. It would provide us with key information as to how astronauts can operate in minimal gravity environments on long-duration missions, and it just might be a useful precursor to a mission to Mars.

2 We could use them to make rocket fuel

One of the main constraints of space exploration is

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How much of Earth's moons?

How much of Earth's moons? It is interesting

Figure 1 The asteroid 2005 YU55 could be used to the Moon of Earth.

As of today, our planet is only one satellite — the Moon. There is an assumption that once the Earth could be two large moons, until one of them has broken in a collision with another 4 billion years ago, making the moon appear unique topography.

Researcher Michael Granvik University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues presented a computer model of the Solar System asteroids flight, confirming that some of them may well have been, or might become satellites.

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Space is headed toward Earth asteroid 4 in just one day


Image from NASA.gov

The largest — 4034 Vishnu is only 800 meters wide. This is — the length of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, albeit with a much larger mass, according to RT. For comparison, the Tunguska meteorite, which devastated hundreds of kilometers of Siberian taiga, where he fell in 1908, it is estimated that was no more than 100 meters.

The asteroid, which may have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, probably had up to 10 kilometers in diameter.

But Vishnu 4034, which was discovered in 1986,

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Discovered a mysterious force pushing asteroids to Earth


Discovered a mysterious force pushing asteroids to Earth

15.12.03, the


Scientists from the United States and the Czech Republic for the first time were able to register a barely visible, but theoretically very important effect of non-gravitational origin acting on all the celestial bodies in the solar system.

This involved using a giant cosmic radioradarnogo rangefinder for a

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