Random Facts: Asteroids

There are thought to be a million asteroids in the solar system which could hit Earth and destroy a city, yet we have discovered fewer than 10,000.

The 30th June 1908 Siberian Tunguska event is the most harmful asteroid-related event in recent history. The impact of the Tunguska asteroid was about 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The word asteroid, meaning star-like, was coined by William Herschel in 1802.

Asteroids are small rocky bodies smaller than planets in interplanetary space. They are thought to be leftovers from the formation of planets about 4.5 billion years ago.

Every day, more than 100 tons of material from comets and asteroids falls toward Earth. Most burns up in our atmosphere forming shooting stars. If it reaches the ground, it is a meteorite.

The largest asteroid is Ceres which is 587 miles across. It was upgraded to “dwarf planet” in 2006.

Nasa is currently tracking more than 1,600 asteroids seen as “potentially hazardous” but the chance of any hitting us soon is almost zero.