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What else is in the solar system and how does if effect Earth? COMETS, ASTEROIDS, AND METEORS; OH MY!! Comets Comets: composed of rock and dust particles mixed with ice, methane, and ammonia Orbit the Sun in an elliptical motion; magnetic field of the sun or other planets may cause them to break free from the Oort Cloud Oort Cloud- larger collection of comets lie in a cloud outside the orbit of Pluto and surrounds the solar system like the asteroid belt Structure of Comets: Nucleus: solid part of the comet- rock and ice Coma: ice, methane, and ammonia gases begin to vaporize as the comet approaches the Sun (Jupiter); the gas and dust forms a cloud around the nucleus Tail: Dust- solar winds push the dust particles away from Sun Ion- solar winds push the methane gases away from Sun, form a curved tail with a blue colored tail Will they or won’t they hit? Meteoroids: pieces of the nucleus –rock- spread out and remain in the original orbit around the Sun, these may cross paths with Earth’s orbit If they enter Earth’s atmosphere- due to how fast they are travelling, this causes friction which causes the meteoroid to completely vaporize. Here it comes Meteor: meteoroids which burn up in the atmosphere, also known as shooting stars, when the Earth passes through the old orbit of a comet there are lots of meteors- we call this a meteor shower Meteorite: Meteor which does not burn up because it is large enough, when it lands on Earth Most are from comets, asteroid collisions but some have been identified as coming from Mars or the moon FROM THE BELT Asteroids: Most are formed from the same materials and rock which formed the planets and can be found in the asteroid belt. Why didn’t’ they form into a planet? Jupiter’s gravity prevented it from happening, the belt is between Mars and Jupiter. Where are the others? What else might asteroids be? Sometimes they break away and drift out into space, others are from pieces of comets Why do we study the asteroids and other objects? Since they are formed from the same materials as the planets and were formed in the past we study them to see what may have happened at the time the solar system began and Earth formed. They may give us clues to our distant past.