The Asteroid Belt

And Its' Significant Celestial Bodies

Asteroid Belt

The Asteroid Belt is a sparse conglomerate of rocks, debris, and stony particles between the main planets Jupiter and Mars, consisting of at least 7,000 known asteroids and many others. The four largest asteroids are Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and Hygiea. Asteroids consist of water, stone, and other rocky minerals like carbonite, and are the remnant of an unmade rocky planet, the creation of which was thwarted by Jupiters gravity.

Ceres

Ceres is the largest celestial body in the asteroid belt, comprising roughly one-third of the asteroid belts mass at 9.39 x 10^20 kilograms. Unlike other bodies in the asteroid belt Ceres is so large that it has a roughly spherical shape, weak atmosphere, and an orbit around the sun, making it a dwarf planet rather than an asteroid.


Ceres existence was predicted to exist by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode, whom claimed there must be a planet between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was first discovered and mapped by Giuseppe Piazzi on January 1, 1801, while he was searching for stars at the Academy of Palermo, Italy. Ceres is also the namesake of the Roman goddess of agriculture, whose feelings dictate the seasons and harvest.


Ceres has an orbit around the sun which takes approximately 4.6 Earth years, and a day that comprises about nine hours and four minutes, and contains a rocky core and icy mantle. It is estimated to contain more freshwater on its’ mantle than there is on Earth, and it is hypothesized by scientists (via infrared waves) that a liquid ocean lies beneath the surface. This discovery has led many scientists to believe that there might be micro-organisms and thus life outside Earth in our solar system.


The atmosphere is fairly minimal, containing mostly water vapor evaporated from the surface, and the surface temperature may reach -36 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.


As for its’ origin, Ceres was most likely formed as a result of lacking gravitational pull from Jupiter and is hypothesized to be a surviving proto-planet from the creation of the solar system that formed 4.57 years ago.

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Vesta

Vesta is the second largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, and is named after the Roman goddess of the hearth. It has dark and light patches on its surface, like the moon, suggesting past volcanic activity, as well as a temperature ranging from 306-0 degrees Fahrenheit. Its; orbit around the sun of 3.63 Earth years and a day of 5.342 hours.

Vestal fragments, affected by Jupiters' gravity, are among those that crash into Earth as meteorites. In addition Vesta has a thin Basaltic crust and is a sister body to Ceres.
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Pallas and Hygiea

Other large asteroids in the belt include Pallas and Hygiea. Pallas was the second known asteroid and was original thought of, along with Ceres, the remnants of a fifth planet.

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