Encyclopedia of Bioastronautics

Living Edition
| Editors: Laurence R. Young, Jeffrey P. Sutton

Asteroids: Near Earth Objects That Provide Opportunities for Human Space Exploration

  • Tracy L. JohnsonEmail author
  • Dorit B. Donoviel
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10152-1_74-1

Definitions

Near Earth Object (NEO)

NEOs include comets, asteroids, and meteors that have been affected by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets and directed into orbits that allow them to be considered “near” the Earth (i.e., within 45 million kilometers of the Earth’s orbit). NEOs are widely varied in size from centimeters to kilometers in diameter (NEO Program JPL 2015a; Abercromby et al. 2013).

Comet

Comets are a type of NEO formed in a region beyond the orbit of the outermost planets (i.e., in the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud). They are composed of water ice, rock, organic compounds, and embedded dust particles. Comets are relatively small when compared to the size of large asteroids. Gravitational perturbations can sometimes move comets from their region of origin, forcing them to orbit the Sun. Long-period comets are in elliptical orbits of the Sun that take them far out beyond the planets and back. Conversely, short-period comets travel in smaller orbits nearer the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baylor University in WacoWacoUSA
  2. 2.Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space MedicineHoustonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Graham B. I. Scott
    • 1
  • Mark J. Shelhamer
    • 2
  1. 1.BioScience Research CollaborativeNational Space Biomedical Research Institute, (NSBRI)HoustonUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA