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    Meteorites, Asteroids, and Comets

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    I need help with the following question;

    What are the differences among meteorites, asteroids, and comets? What roles did each play in the formation of the Moon?

    © BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com December 24, 2021, 10:45 pm ad1c9bdddf
    https://brainmass.com/physics/asteroids/meteorites-asteroids-comets-504743

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    What are the differences among meteorites, asteroids, and comets? What roles did each play in the formation of the Moon?
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    Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Most asteroids orbit the sun in an area between mars and Jupiter and can range in size from a hundred kilometres to less than a kilometre wide. Their pathways can sometimes be influence by the gravitational pull of planets, causing them to change their paths. It is believed that asteroids, or fragments of them, have had previous collision with earth, playing an important role in the evolution of our planet (Darlington, 1984). This is because asteroids have certain metals and chemical compounds that would otherwise not be available to earth.

    Comets are small, irregularly shaped bodies that are also thought to be left over from the formation of the solar system. Comets, however, are icy balls made of dirt that form in the outer solar system. Their icy surface contains dust, grit, and particles from space. Comets tend to have elliptical orbits that cut across the orbits of planets. This takes them very close to the sun but also very far away, past Pluto in most cases. They can take 200 years to 30 million years to orbit the sun (Darlington, 1984). When these icy balls move towards the sun, they begin to warm and material on them vaporise. These vapours and gases can then carry dust grains with them to form an atmosphere of gas and dust. Scientists believe that comets are responsible for bringing water and organic molecules to earth.

    Meteorites are small and rocky and when they approach earth they typically burn up in our atmosphere, creating a meteor or shooting star. They can be produced by impacts between asteroids, which then break up into smaller pieces, forming meteors or meteoroids. Meteorites are formed from meteoroids that survive passage through earth's atmosphere and reach earth's surface (Darlington, 1984).

    The moon has been greatly influences by asteroid, comet, and meteoroid processes. These objects can hit the moon at a wide range of speeds. The surface of the moon is scarred with millions of impact craters. This occurs because, unlike earth, there is no atmosphere to help protect the moon from the bombardment of impactors. In addition to this, there is no erosion (from wind or water) and little geologic activity so that these craters remain intact and unchanged until a new impact occurs (Darlington, 1984).

    Secondly, the earth's moon is thought to have been formed when a giant impact knocked off raw ingredients from earth when it was in a molten state. These chemicals collided to form the moon. This hypothesis of the Giant impact being the origin of the moon is often supported by the identical spin of the earth to the moon's orbit (Kominami and Ida, 2002).

    References
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    Darling, D.J. (1984). Comets, meteors, and asteroids : rocks in space. Minneapolis, Minn. Dillon Press, c1984.
    Latham, G., Ewing, M., Dorman, J., Press, F., Toksoz, N., Sutton, G., Meissner, R., Duennevier, F., Nakamura, Y., Kovach, R., Yates, M. (1970). Seismic Data from Man-Made Impacts on the Moon. Nature. 170, 620-626.
    Kominami, J., Ida, D. (2002). The Effect of Tidal Interaction with a Gas Disk on Formation of Terrestrial Planets. Icarus. 157, 43-56.

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