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Asteroids Ida and Gaspra

Image of Asteroids Ida and Gaspra
THE IMPACT OF ASTEROIDS: Ida (left) and Gaspra (right) are just two of the billions of such rocky and metallic objects that orbit the Sun mainly between Mars and Jupiter. Shown here to the same scale, Ida is about 30km long (19 miles), and Gaspra is about 17km (11 miles). Asteroids have played a role in the evolution of life on Earth. Sometimes the orbits of asteroids bring them close to Earth and collisions ensue. Not only do scientists think some of Earth’s water may have been delivered by asteroids early on in Earth’s history, there is strong evidence that the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was caused by an asteroid that was at least 10km (6 miles) wide. If that hadn’t happened, would humans be walking the Earth today? Image Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS
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