Asteroid: Earth Destroyer Or New Frontier? by Patricia Barnes-Svarney

By Patricia Barnes-Svarney

A examine the production and composition of asteroids and the scary eventuality of a collision with the earth.

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Our own Moon did not escape the Late Heavy Bombardment. The impacting bodies broke open parts of the newly formed crust, which in turn released gigantic lava flows. The bombardment continued, and because there is no atmosphere or crustal movement, the resulting (and subsequent) craters still cover the entire satellite-virtually a fossil remnant of the bombardment. (Photo courtesy of NASA) lands and may have precipitated the volcanic flooding of the major impact crater basins-developed from a different population of impacting bodies.

The close encounters caused the asteroids to increase their velocities and even alter their orbits so they could not form a planet. Such chaos within the belt increased the number of collisions between themselves and perhaps a few of the planetesimals that caused the problem in the first place. Another plausible theory again involves massive Jupiter. Instead of coalescing into a planet, the perturbation of Jupiter's gravitational field alone tugged at the bodies torming in the belt, not allowing the objects to form into a planetary body.

She also realized that other planets and satellites had their own characteristic morphological controls, too, some even more dynamic: Violent impacting, extremely active volcanicseven cracks in an icy crust gushing out slush, like squeezing toothpaste from a tube.

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