Galileo image of Gaspra
(29 October 1991)
Click on image for full size
Asteroids are small bodies that are believed to be left over from the beginning of the solar system 4,600 million years ago. They are rocky objects with strange shapes up to several hundred km across, but most are much smaller.
Many thousands of asteroids lie in a belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists think that this debris may be the remains of an early planet, which broke up early in the solar system. Several thousand of the largest asteroids in this belt have been given names.
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Lutetia is a medium-sized asteroid. It orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt. The asteroid belt is between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Lutetia was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt in Paris in 1852....more
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The NEAR spacecraft has been in orbit around the asteroid Eros since Valentine's Day of last year. That was the first time a spacecraft ever orbited an asteroid! Now NEAR will attempt another first --...more