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February 10, 2020 7:30PM
From Dust Motes to Icy Mountains: Asteroids and Comets
Featuring Amy Mainzer, University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Our solar system teems with asteroids and comets, which range in size from tiny dust particles to gigantic mountains that are worlds in their own right. While most of these objects remain in stable orbits that whirl them around them Sun for billions of years, every now and again something changes: some objects can be perturbed into orbits that encounter Earth. In the last few decades, astronomers have begun systematic searches for potentially Earth-impacting asteroids and comets, and have in the process learned much about Earth’s nearest cosmic neighbors. As study of the distant universe has advanced, so has our understanding of the contents of our own solar system, and its potential to affect life on Earth.
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