The Sky is Falling - Mackenzie Schaffer The Sky is Falling The fate of human beings on planet earth could be the same as the dinosaurs 65 million

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Mackenzie Schaffer The Sky is Falling! The fate of human beings on planet earth could be the same as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Since the asteroids and meteors have formed, they are subject to the laws of gravity and propulsion from outside forces. Our solar system has two rocky orbits consisting of asteroids and mini-planets: the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and the Kuiper belt located beyond the orbit of Neptune. There are also several meteoroids, comets, and asteroids that pursue their own orbits close to earth known as near earth objects. Our solar system has plenty of ammunition to draw upon to destroy all life on earth. Due to gravity, these objects orbit the sun. Unfortunately, many large, massive objects could disturb the delicacy of such an orbit. A large enough asteroid could completely wipe out life on earth instantly or cause a “nuclear winter” in which sunlight is blocked from entering the earth’s cloudy atmosphere. Whether it is a black hole, an approaching star, Jupiter’s orbit falling in, or even nature; none of this will matter when many rocky objects are suddenly plummeting onto the earth’s surface as planet earth is thrown into mass hysteria. Asteroids, by definition, are primordial objects from the formation of our solar system that never formulated a planet. A meteoroid, another potential threat, are smaller rocks that are usually 50 meters or less. Most meteoroids burn up in the earth’s atmosphere before hitting the surface. It is estimated that about 200 tons of ice, dust, and meteorites fall in our atmosphere daily. Comets, yet another potential risk, are mixtures of ice and dust. Typically, we find asteroids on two asteroid belts located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and outside Neptune’s orbit. The estimated mass of the main asteroid belt is about 4% of our moon. Twenty-five percent of that mass consists of
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Mackenzie Schaffer Ceres, a dwarf planet that stretches 933 kilometers in diameter. The other large asteroids are between 400 and 525 kilometers. The rest of the asteroids vary from less than 300 kilometers to the size of a pebble. It’s theorized that the asteroid belt was formed because the close gravitational interaction of Jupiter and Mars combined made it impossible for a planet in this region to accrete material due to constant colliding amongst the rocks. Broken down, there are around 200 objects of 100 kilometers in width or more and 700,000 to 1.7 million objects with a width of 1 kilometer or more. The Kuiper belt is the outer asteroid belt that has an orbit near Pluto, approximately 30 to 50 astronomical units away from the sun. The mass is uncertain with varying estimations of between a tenth of earth’s mass to thirty earth masses. The uncertainty is due to projections of the formation of our solar system and what we consider the Kuiper belt.
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2008 for the course AST 309 taught by Professor Johnlacy during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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The Sky is Falling - Mackenzie Schaffer The Sky is Falling The fate of human beings on planet earth could be the same as the dinosaurs 65 million

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