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Major asteroids

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The major asteroids listed here are notable for a variety of reasons. Three of them are objects originally classified as planets until astronomers realized that these objects were part of a large group of similar objects. Others are not in the main asteroid belt and tend to approach Earth closely.

Examples

The asteroids in this group are Pallas, Juno, and Vesta, the first three asteroids to be discovered after Ceres, and the near-Earth objects 433 Eros and 1036 Ganymed.

Vesta

Vesta.jpg
Asteroid 4 Vesta was the fourth body in the asteroid belt to be discovered. It was discovered in 1807. For many years after that, most astronomers regarded it as a planet. It has a diameter of 530 meters and a mass of 3 * 1017 kg[1]

The Dawn rocket probe will visit Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

Eros

Eros southern.jpg
Asteroid 433 Eros will make its next close approach to Earth (to within 0.1790 AU) on January 31, 2012. It is an irregular object measuring about 33,000 meters long and 13,000 meters wide.[2] On February 12, 2001, the NEAR-Shoemaker rocket probe landed on this object and sent back multiple high-quality images.

References

  1. Williams, David R. "Asteroid Fact Sheet." National Space Science Data Center, NASA, September 1, 2004. Accessed June 23, 2008.
  2. Williams, David R. "Near Earth Object Fact Sheet." National Space Science Data Center, NASA, September 12, 2006. Accessed June 23, 2008.
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