Questions for Asteroids: Avoiding an Earthly smashup

image of meteor crater



Before reading

1.    What caused the craters that pock the surface of the moon?

2.    What are shooting stars? Why are they so bright?

During reading

1.    What would be the effect of a collision with Bennu?

2.    Define “potentially hazardous asteroid.”

3.    List two ways of nudging an asteroid off its current path.

4.    Explain the origin of the fireball spotted over Russia.

5.    Why was it significant to find troilite in the sample from the asteroid Itokawa?

6.    What was a major effect of the meteor that struck Earth 65 million years ago?

7.    Describe what the Dawn mission will do.

8.    What is regolith?

After reading

1.    Explain how asteroids formed and evolved.

2.    Describe how the Yarkovsky effect can make it difficult to predict an asteroid’s journey through space.

3.    Mimic how figure skaters use their arms to slow their spin. How does this relate to the way the Wrangler works?


1.     Bennu is a roundish asteroid. For the purposes of this exercise, pretend it is a perfect sphere. The circumference of Bennu is 1.6 kilometers (1 mile). What is the diameter of the asteroid?