[meteorite-list] China Plans To Send Spacecraft To Study Asteroids
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon Sep 18 12:16:02 2006
China plans to send spacecraft to study asteroids
September 18, 2006
BEIJING, Sept.18 (Xinhua) -- China's space scientists plan to
develop spacecraft to study asteroids in the near future, according to
experts at the annual conference of the China Association for Science
The Beijing Morning Post on Monday quoted an unnamed expert with the
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. as saying the study of
asteroids or comets had been listed on China's space program.
The Chinese spacecraft would probably land on the asteroids or crash
into minor planets, similar to the Deep Impact mission of NASA, said the
On July 4 last year, the Deep Impact spacecraft arrived at Comet
Temel 1, impacting with a mass of 370 kg.
The study of asteroids was significant to the search for life
outside the Earth, said experts.
Japan has also sent spacecraft to probe asteroids.
Asteroids are rock and metallic objects that orbit the Sun, butare
too small to be considered planets. They are known as minor planets and
range in size from Ceres, with a diameter of about 1,000 km, down to the
size of pebbles.
Sixteen asteroids have a diameter of at least 240 km. They have been
found inside the Earth's orbit to beyond Saturn's orbit. Most, however,
are contained within a main belt between the orbitsof Mars and Jupiter.
Some have orbits that cross the Earth's path and some have even hit the
Earth in times past.
Asteroids are material left over from the formation of the solar
system.Much of mankind's understanding of asteroids comes from examining
pieces of space debris that fall to the surface of Earth.
Because asteroids are material from the very early solar system,
scientists are interested in their composition.
Before 1991 the only information obtained on asteroids was through
Earth-based observations. Then in October 1991, asteroid 951 Gaspra was
visited by the Galileo spacecraft and became the first asteroid subject
to high-resolution images.
Received on Mon 18 Sep 2006 12:01:49 PM PDT