JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Asteroids approaching Earth. Artwork of a group of asteroids approaching Earth (at right). Asteroids are minor planets which have diameters which are typically less than 100 kilometres. There are thousands of asteroids in the solar system and they lie mainly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. A number of asteroids, classed into three groups (named Apollo, Amor and Aten), have orbits which cross or come close to that of Earth. Earth has been struck many times in the past by such asteroids, & it is a statistical certainty that a similar event will occur at some point in the future. Such an event could severely disrupt life on Earth.
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