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What is an Asteroid?

An asteroid is a rock, or a bunch of small rocks, orbiting around the Sun. It is too small for gravity to make it round like planets.

Most of the asteroids that we know are located in the asteroid belt, an expanse of space between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Some asteroids orbit closer to the Earth and are known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

NASA expects that about once a year, an asteroid the size of a car will hit the Earth's atmosphere, but burn up before it reaches the ground. About every 2000 years, an asteroid large enough to cause significant damage will hit the atmosphere. The most devastating recorded event occurred in Siberia in 1908, destroying eighty million trees, but with no known direct human deaths. It is reassuring to understand that with around 90% of Earth's surface being ocean or near-uninhabitable, it's difficult to even detect most asteroid strikes, let alone have them cause noticeable damage.

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