Posted by: tpsciencefun | November 13, 2012

What’s The Difference Between an Asteroid and a Comet???

We have been having some good discussions about this very question in Awesome Science.  Just what are asteroids and comets? How are they different and/or alike?  See if you come up with the answers and then read below to see if you were correct.
  1. What are asteroids?

    • An artists renditioning of asteroids orbiting around an Earth-type planet.
      An artists renditioning of asteroids orbiting around an Earth-type planet.

      Asteroids are “metallic, rocky bodies without atmospheres that orbit the sun but are too small to be classified as plants,” according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They are known as “minor planets” and number in the tens of thousands in the main asteroid belt of Earth’s solar system. They are suspected of being made up of material remains from the creation of the solar system approximately 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, the largest asteroid is called Ceres, at 600 miles in diameter. The smallest are the size of pebbles.

    What are comets?

    • As opposed to their metallic counterparts, comets are composed of gas, rock and dust. Comets, when close to the sun, become heated so that their gases create “heads” that can outsize planets and a stream of gaseous tail. Halley’s Comet is an example of one such comet that passes by Earth every 76 years. Comets can have elliptical orbits and pass by earth on a consistent schedule. They can be the size of a “small town” according to NASA.

Read more: The Difference between an Asteroid and a Comet |



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