Background - Near Earth Objects
Near Earth Objects are asteroids that routinely pass by the Earth in their orbit around the Sun. The pictures to the right are of impact craters that were formed when ancient meteors crashed into Earth, Mars and Venus. There have been many catastrophic historical impacts. The dinosaurs died after an asteroid crashed into the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago. This impact destroyed many species and restarted the remaining populations in a new direction. There are several categories: Apollos, Atens, Comets and PHAs. Over the ages, asteroids have brought much water to Earth. They have also brought important elements including organic molecules. The Earth accumulates thousands of tons each year from small falling meteors which burn up in the atmosphere. Their dust falls to earth.