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What is the Asteroid Belt?



Don’t worry, this isn’t some new fashion trend set to take over the youth of today. The asteroid belt is a very real and very interesting portion of our solar system. Now, you might be picturing an asteroid field densely packed together like in sci-fi movies, but that’s not quite how it shakes out in reality. Here’s what the asteroid belt is and what we know about it:

1. Between Mars and Jupiter lies a scattered field of space-debris…
The asteroid belt makes up the space in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It’s circular and about 92 million miles in width. Within the asteroid belt, there are likely millions of asteroids, including the largest one we know of: Ceres. In fact, Ceres is so large that it’s classified as a dwarf planet.



2. It’s likely made up of the remnants of our solar system’s formation.
So what’s the asteroid belt doing hanging around the Sun? It’s likely that our early solar system was one giant asteroid belt, with debris floating around everywhere and coalescing into planets. However, since Jupiter’s gravitational pull is so strong, the asteroid material probably wasn’t able to come together. So essentially, the asteroid belt is what’s left over from the formation of our solar system.



3. The average distance between the asteroids is vast.
The name “asteroid belt” sounds like a minefield of flying objects and giant boulders, but let’s think about how expansive space is. Asteroids ranging in size from pebbles to dwarf planets are orbiting around, but they don’t hit each other and cause chaos. When we send probes out towards Jupiter, we don’t worry about the probe meeting an untimely end due to asteroid collision. This is because, on average, the space between each asteroid is about 600,000 miles. Talk about roomy!
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Don’t worry, this isn’t some new fashion trend set to take over the youth of today. The asteroid belt is a very real and very interesting portion of our solar system. Now, you might be picturing an asteroid field densely packed together like in sci-fi movies, but that’s not quite how it shakes out in reality. Here’s what the asteroid belt is and what we know about it:

1. Between Mars and Jupiter lies a scattered field of space-debris…
The asteroid belt makes up the space in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It’s circular and about 92 million miles in width. Within the asteroid belt, there are likely millions of asteroids, including the largest one we know of: Ceres. In fact, Ceres is so large that it’s classified as a dwarf planet.



2. It’s likely made up of the remnants of our solar system’s formation.
So what’s the asteroid belt doing hanging around the Sun? It’s likely that our early solar system was one giant asteroid belt, with debris floating around everywhere and coalescing into planets. However, since Jupiter’s gravitational pull is so strong, the asteroid material probably wasn’t able to come together. So essentially, the asteroid belt is what’s left over from the formation of our solar system.



3. The average distance between the asteroids is vast.
The name “asteroid belt” sounds like a minefield of flying objects and giant boulders, but let’s think about how expansive space is. Asteroids ranging in size from pebbles to dwarf planets are orbiting around, but they don’t hit each other and cause chaos. When we send probes out towards Jupiter, we don’t worry about the probe meeting an untimely end due to asteroid collision. This is because, on average, the space between each asteroid is about 600,000 miles. Talk about roomy!
"So what’s the asteroid belt doing hanging around the Sun? It’s likely that our early solar system was one giant asteroid belt, with debris floating around everywhere and coalescing into planets."

What is the accretion disk mass used in modern, computer models simulating planet formation in our solar system? We know the amount of mass in orbit around the Sun today from Mercury out to Pluto. This is a free parameter in the computer code and can be quite large compared to the present, observable solar system. The object, Theia used to create the Moon is a good example in the giant impact model. You need plenty of mass spinning around to also create the Oort Cloud of comets also.
 
Oct 21, 2019
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It is interesting to note that, since the average distance between any two asteroids in the Asteroid Belt is about 600,000 miles, the proposals to mine asteroids in the Asteroid Belt are impractical. The Asteroid Belt lies between 200 million and 400 million miles from the Sun, so transit time to get to the closest Belt asteroids is about a year. The Sunlight across the Asteroid Belt would be between 6% and 25% of what we get on Earth, making power from solar panels very weak. Also, the reflected light from asteroids would be proportionally difficult to detect. It is reasonable to determine that once there, simply finding an asteroid could take months. Finding an asteroid worth mining could take years and require enormous amounts of fuel, along with all the supplied required for survival. All of that before even beginning to mine, let alone do the mining, processing, refining, and transporting back to Earth (or Mars).
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Mental Avenger

I could not agree with you more on that point. However, whilst I would agree that this post is about the Asteroid Belt, it should not be too far off topic to suggest that there are also Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) as well as other asteroids in the Solar System such as Jupiter's Trojans.

As the name implies, NEAs do come much nearer to us - even to the point where one could be induced to orbit the Moon - (I am not agreeing that this might be possible) - or otherwise be amenable to exploitation.

Best wishes

Cat :)
 

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