Astronomy 101 Near Earth Asteroids Lab - Please help my by completing this lab
Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 100 NEAR EARTH ASTEROIDS OBJECTIVES
This laboratory is to examine information on Near Earth asteroids and possible collisions. SKILLS/COMPETENCIES Interpret tables or graphs.
Present data by construction of charts and graphs.
Evaluate the relevancy of data. BACKGROUND ON NEOS AND NEAS
Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) are a special class of comets and
asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that
allow them to enter the Earth's neighborhood. Composed mostly of water ice with embedded
dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the
rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively
unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.
The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of
billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets
we see today. Likewise, today's asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial
agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
As the primitive, leftover building blocks of the solar system formation process, comets and
asteroids offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some 4.6 billion
years ago. If we wish to know the composition of the primordial mixture from which the planets
formed, then we must determine the chemical constituents of the leftover debris from this
formation process - the comets and asteroids.
NASA's search program designed to discover 90% of the NEO population (1 km in diameter or
larger) within 10 years is under way. The chart below shows the cumulative total known nearEarth asteroids versus time. NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 101 LAB FIGURE 1: NEAR EARTH ASTEROIDS UP THROUGH 2005 The upper curve area shows all known near-Earth asteroids while the lower area shows only
large near-Earth asteroids. In this context, "large" is defined as an asteroid having an absolute
magnitude (H or brightness) of 18.0 or brighter which roughly corresponds to diameters of 1 km
Programs (and year) that search for NEAs include:
Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research, LINEAR (1996)
Near Earth Asteroid Tracking, NEAT (2001)
Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search, LONEOS (1993)
Catalina Sky Surveys, CSS (2003)
Japanese Spaceguard Association, JSGA (2000)
Italy?s Asiago DLR Asteroid Survey, ADAS (2001) NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 102 TASK 1: INTERPRETING THE NEA GRAPH 1. a. How many total asteroids were discovered by 2000? b. How many total asteroids were discovered by 2006? 2. a. How many large asteroids were discovered by 2000?
b. How many large asteroids were discovered by 2006? 3. What was the asteroid detection rate from 2000 to 2006 (for all NEA?s)? 4. Assume that the detection rate stays the same. How many total asteroids will be discovered
by 2010? 5. NASA?s original goal was to discover 90% of the NEA?s by the year 2010. If your number for
question 4 is 90%, how many undiscovered asteroids are still out there (in 2010)? Please
show your work! NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 103 6. a. As more and more of the larger NEAs are discovered, how do you think the shape of the
bottom curve will change over to next 10 years? b. The next 50 years? On the next page are the figures showing NEA detections as of June 2013.
7. These graphs are presenting slightly different information than the graph of ?Known Near
Earth Asteroids? that you looked at before. Please explain the difference. 8. What does Figure 2 show about the rate of discovery for all NEA?s from 2006 to 2013? 9. What does Figure 3 show about the rate of discovery for large NEAs from 2006 to 2013? NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 104 10. Do these updated graphs support your conclusion for questions 6a and 6b? FIGURE 2: NEAS DISCOVERED EVERY 6 MONTHS (01/2012) FIGURE 3: LARGE (>1 KM) NEAS DISCOVERED EVERY 6 MONTHS (01/2012) NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 105 TASK 2: UNDERSTANDING IMPACT PROBABILITIES
From your textbook, we have Figure 4 that shows the likelihood of space debris impacting the
Earth. FIGURE 4: "CURVE FROM TEXTBOOK" 11. NASA is looking for asteroids one km or larger.
a. What would the effects be of a one km asteroid striking the Earth? b. About how large would the crater be? NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 106 c. What is the smallest-sized asteroid that could cause widespread devastation? 12. a. According to Figure 4: "curve from textbook" On average, how often does a 1 km asteroid
size strike the Earth? b. A 100 meter diameter asteroid? 13. Based on the graph in figure 4 (the curve from the textbook), do you think the NASA NEO
programs using a one km size search criteria is the right decision? Why or why not? 14. Do you think Figure 4 might change as more asteroids are discovered? Why? NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 107 TASK 3: INTERPRETING IMPACT DATA
15. How do you think astronomers get their estimates of impact rates? (This is a question about
what you think. All thoughtful, well-written answers will receive full credit.) NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 108 One tool for making predictions about impact rates is to study impact events on Earth through
astroblemes. An astrobleme is an impact crater (impact basin) is usually a circular depression
on the surface of a body caused by a collision of a smaller body (meteorite, asteroid, comet)
with the surface. In the center of craters on Earth a crater lake often accumulates, and a central
island or peak caused by rebounding crustal rock after the impact is usually a prominent feature
in the lake.
16. Fill in the data for the fourth column in the table below:
Name Location Vredefort
Odessa South Africa
US NEA Lab Crater
0.2 km Estimated Impactor Size
(crater diameter / 10) Age (years)
50,000 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 109 17. Now, you?ll use the table of astrobleme data to make your own estimates about the
frequency of impacts.
a. Do you think that this is a complete record of impacts on Earth? Explain why or
why not. b. Show all your work and/or explain your method for using the information from
the table to calculate: how often we should expect to be hit by an object 9-10 km
in diameter; how often we should expect to be hit by an object 4.5-5.5 km in
diameter; and how often we should expect to be hit by an object 2.8-3.2 km in
diameter. NEA Lab 11 pages Astronomy 101 lab manual, v. 6.4 page 110 19. How do your estimates compare to the information from Figure 4: "curve from textbook"?
Be specific and, if your estimates a different, explain why you think this might be. NEA Lab 11 pages
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