CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Asteroids approaching a planet, computer artwork. Asteroids are large rocks left over after a solar system forms. They mostly have a diameter of less than a hundred kilometres. Most of the thousands of asteroids in our solar system lie in the asteroid belt between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. They are mostly made up of rock and carbon, but those further from the Sun's heat retain ices that boil when they are near the Sun. When they hit a planet or moon, an impact crater is formed, as seen on our Moon, the Earth and the other planets. Asteroid impacts are rare, but have devastated the Earth in the past and will do so again in the future.
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