Five questions to test your knowledge of these curious space rocks.
A spacecraft just successfully collected a sample of material from an asteroid. What is it called?
C. OSIRIS-REx: The spacecraft successfully “tagged” the surface of asteroid Bennu to collect material. In 2021, the spacecraft will return to Earth.
Why do scientists study asteroids?
A. To understand the early Solar System
B. To understand where Earth’s water came from
C. To understand how life evolved
D. All of the above
D. All of the above. Asteroids contain unaltered material from the early Solar System, which means they hold a wealth of information about both water and the evolution of life.
True or false: If an asteroid is on a collision-course with Earth, it means it has “fallen out of its orbit.”
C. It’s complicated
B. False. Asteroids orbit the Sun like everything in the solar system. When an asteroid is on a collision-course with Earth, that means the asteroid and Earth are going to be in the same place at the same time in their orbits.
You might have heard of the “asteroid belt,” a ring of asteroids orbiting the Sun. Where in the Solar System is the asteroid belt?
A. Between Mars and Jupiter
B. Between Jupiter and Saturn
C. Between the Sun and Mercury
D. Between Venus and Earth
A. Between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid belt spans about 140 million miles wide and contains millions of asteroids.
How big was the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs?
A. 100 miles wide
B. 50 miles wide
C. 6 miles wide
D. 20 miles wide
C. 6 miles wide. The asteroid created a 90-mile-wide crater in the Yucatán Peninsula — and changed Earth forever.