The Galileo spacecraft captured this view of asteroid 951 Gaspra in 1991. It was the first time a spacecraft made a close flyby of an asteroid. The colors are highly exaggerated to bring out subtle differences in surface properties. Bluish regions represent fresher rock, while reddish regions are composed of regolith materials. NASA
One hundred forty-two million years ago, an asteroid or comet slammed into what is now the Missionary Plains in Australia’s Northern Territory, forming a crater 24 kilometers in diameter. Today, like a bull’s eye, the circular ring of hills that defines Gosses Bluff stands as a stark reminder of the event. NASA
This painting by Donald E. Davis depicts an asteroid slamming into tropical, shallow seas of the sulfur-rich Yucatan Peninsula in what is today southeast Mexico. The aftermath of this immense asteroid collision, which occurred approximately 65 million years ago, is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species on Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a mysterious X-shaped debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust that suggest a head-on collision between two asteroids. Astronomers have long thought the asteroid belt is being ground down through collisions, but such a smashup has never been seen before. NASA/Zuma/Newscom
While analyzing NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of the Sagittarius dwarf irregular galaxy (SagDIG), an international team of astronomers led by Simone Marchi, Yazan Momany, and Luigi Bedin were surprised to see the trail of a faint asteroid that had drifted across the field of view during the exposures. The trail is seen as a series of 13 reddish arcs on the right in this August 2003 Advanced Camera for Surveys image. NASA/ESA/Y. Momany/University of Padua
This 3-D model of the asteroid Eros was generated by data from the laser rangefinder. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
This artist's rendition provides image of asteroid Kleopatra, a type of asteroid that a future mission could target for further study of the solar system. JPL/NASA
This handout image obtained on March 9, 2005 from NASA shows the interior of Meteor Crater in Arizona. Planetary scientists believe that a rock which smashed into Arizona around 49,000 years ago with the power of more than 150 Hiroshima bombs was just a fragment of a space goliath. NASA/HO/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom
Hubble captured a bright asteroid, with a visual magnitude of 18.7, roaming in the constellation Centaurus. Background stars are shown in white, while the asteroid trail is depicted in blue at top center. Numerous orange and blue specks in this image were created by cosmic rays, energetic subatomic particles that struck the camera's detector. R. Evans and K. Stapelfeldt/JPL/NASA
This artist's concept show a massive asteroid belt in orbit around a star the same age and size as our Sun. Evidence for this possible belt was discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope when it spotted warm dust around the star, called HD 69830, presumably from asteroids smashing together. NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
This is the first full picture showing both asteroid 243 Ida and its newly discovered moon to be transmitted to Earth from NASA's Galileo spacecraft - the first conclusive evidence that natural satellites of asteroids exist. Ida, the large object, is about 35 miles long. Ida's natural satellite is the small object to the right. JPL Archives
Astronomers say they have detected perhaps 90 percent of the potentially world-destroying space rocks in our solar system, but there are many thousands of still-unseen asteroids that are big enough to level a major city.
Miriam Kramer, Space.com Staff Writer /
October 28, 2013
Searching for potentially Earth-destroying asteroids today isn't easy.