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Called asteroids or small planets some tens of thousands of rock fragments, whose dimensions vary from a small rock to 1,000 km. in diameter, characterized by an irregular surface and the absence of atmosphere.

About 95 percent of these bodies occupy a space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter; however, some groups orbit near the Sun, Mercury and others move away to Saturn's orbit. It is estimated that its total mass is 1 / 2,500 with respect to that of the Earth, being comparable to Japet, a satellite of Saturn.

The hypotheses about the origins of asteroids are several; however, the most accepted today are reduced to two: that asteroid fragments are the result of the destruction of a single celestial body or that a family of a limited number of asteroids, no more than about fifty, was formed from the origin of the solar system, but in successive and reciprocal collisions were multiplied.

Asteroids, as some astronomers have indicated, could in the future become optimal reserves of valuable minerals that are scarce on our planet. Therefore, they could be widely exploited in a future human colonization of the solar system.

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Star AssociationsAstrobiology