Asteroids are the initial material left after the formation of the Solar System. They are common everywhere: some fly very close to the Sun, others are found near the orbit of Neptune. A huge number of asteroids are collected between Jupiter and Mars – they form the so-called Asteroid Belt. To date, about 9,000 objects have been discovered passing near the Earth’s orbit.
Many of these asteroids are in the access zone and many contain huge reserves of resources: from water to platinum. Their use will provide an almost endless source that will establish stability on Earth, increase the welfare of mankind, and also create the basis for the presence and exploration of space.
There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to reach as the moon. Their orbits intersect with the orbit of the Earth. Such asteroids have a small gravity, which facilitates the landing and take-off tasks.
Asteroid resources have a number of unique features, which makes them even more attractive. Unlike Earth, where heavy metals are located closer to the core, metals on asteroids are distributed throughout the object. Thus, it is much easier to extract them.
Asteroids contain precious and useful minerals, for example, iron, nickel, water, PGM, gold. Often their concentrations can be compared with concentrations in the richest deposits of the Earth.
Humanity is only beginning to understand the incredible potential of asteroids. The first contact of the spacecraft with one of them occurred in 1991, when the Galileo spacecraft flew near the asteroid Gaspra on its way to Jupiter. Our knowledge of such heavenly neighbors has been revolutionized by the few international and American missions undertaken since then. During each of them, the science of asteroids was rewritten again.
About the discovery and number of asteroids
Millions of asteroids fly past the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, whose gravitational perturbations push some objects closer to the Sun. Thus, a class of near-Earth asteroids appeared.
When talking about asteroids, most people represent precisely their Belt. Millions of objects making it form a ring-like region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Despite the fact that these asteroids are very important from the point of view of understanding the history of the origin and development of the Solar System, in comparison with the near-Earth, it is not so easy to get to them.
Near Earth Asteroids
Near-Earth asteroids are defined as asteroids whose orbit or part of it is in the range from 0, 983 to 1, 3 astronomical units from the Sun (1 astronomical unit is the distance from the Earth to the Sun).