minor planets


Summary: Small solar system planetary bodies including asteroids. Most asteroids are found within the gap lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Top Publications

  1. Tagle R, Claeys P. Comet or asteroid shower in the late Eocene?. Science. 2004;305:492 pubmed
    ..Such an asteroidal projectile is difficult to reconcile with a cometary origin. Perhaps instead the higher delivery rate of extraterrestrial matter, dust, and large objects was caused by a major collision in the asteroid belt. ..
  2. Owen T, Cruikshank D, de Bergh C, Geballe T. Dark matter in the outer solar system. Adv Space Res. 1995;16:41-9 pubmed
    ..Three absorptions in the spectrum of the unusually red planetesimal 5145 Pholus are well-established, but their identity remains a mystery. ..
  3. Drobyshevski E, Chesnakov V, Sinitsyn V. The electrolytical processes in dirty ices: implications for origin and chemistry of minor bodies and related objects. Adv Space Res. 1995;16:73-84 pubmed
    ..Thus the electrochemical processes in the dirty ice with organics, along with its subsequent thermal, radiative etc. processing, open up new potentials for explanation and prediction of quite unexpected discoveries. ..
  4. Kecskes C. Scenarios which may lead to the rise of an asteroid-based technical civilisation. Acta Astronaut. 2002;50:569-77 pubmed
  5. Zahnle K, Pollack J, Kasting J. Xenon fractionation in porous planetesimals. Geochim Cosmochim Acta. 1990;54:2577-86 pubmed
    ..The required planetesimals are large, representing a class of object now extinct in the solar system. ..
  6. Marzari F. Planetary science. Puzzling Neptune Trojans. Science. 2006;313:451-2 pubmed
  7. Pope K, Baines K, Ocampo A, Ivanov B. Impact winter and the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinctions: results of a Chicxulub asteroid impact model. Earth Planet Sci Lett. 1994;128:719-25 pubmed
    ..Several decades of moderate warming followed the decade of severe cooling due to the long residence time of CO2. The prolonged impact winter may have been a major cause of the K/T extinctions. ..
  8. Reinhardt J, Chen X, Liu W, Manchev P, Paté Cornell M. Asteroid Risk Assessment: A Probabilistic Approach. Risk Anal. 2016;36:244-61 pubmed publisher
    ..We conclude that there is a continued need for NEO observation, and for analyses of the feasibility and risk-reduction effectiveness of space missions designed to deflect or destroy asteroids that threaten the Earth. ..
  9. Pope K, Baines K, Ocampo A, Ivanov B. Energy, volatile production, and climatic effects of the Chicxulub Cretaceous/Tertiary impact. J Geophys Res. 1997;102:21645-64 pubmed
    ..This upwelling apparently drastically altered ocean stratification and circulation, which may explain the global collapse of the delta 13C gradient between surface and deep ocean waters at the K/T boundary. ..

More Information


  1. Flynn G. The delivery of organic matter from asteroids and comets to the early surface of Mars. Earth Moon Planets. 1996;72:469-74 pubmed
    ..Interplanetary dust is shown to deliver an order-of-magnitude higher surface concentration of carbon onto Mars than onto Earth, suggesting interplanetary dust may be an important source of carbon on Mars as well. ..
  2. Thomas K, Blanford G, Keller L, Klock W, McKay D. Carbon abundance and silicate mineralogy of anhydrous interplanetary dust particles. Geochim Cosmochim Acta. 1993;57:1551-66 pubmed
    ..Based on carbon abundances, the mixed-mineralogy group represents particles derived from either comets or asteroids. We believe that the high carbon, pyroxene-rich anhydrous IDPs are the best candidates for cometary dust. ..
  3. Sandford S. The mid-infrared transmission spectra of Antarctic ureilites. Meteoritics. 1993;28:579-85 pubmed
    ..At present, the best candidates include the subset of S-type asteroids having low albedos and weak absorption features in the near infrared. ..
  4. Sandford S, Bradley J. Interplanetary dust particles collected in the stratosphere: observations of atmospheric heating and constraints on their interrelationships and sources. Icarus. 1989;82:146-66 pubmed
  5. Chapman C, Morrison D. No reduction in risk of a massive asteroid impact. Nature. 2003;421:473 pubmed
  6. Milani A. Astronomy. Extraterrestrial material--virtual or real hazards?. Science. 2003;300:1882-3 pubmed
  7. Kring D, Durda D. The day the world burned. Sci Am. 2003;289:98-105 pubmed
  8. Cockell C. The origin and emergence of life under impact bombardment. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006;361:1845-55; discussion 1856 pubmed
    ..In impact melt sheets, shattered, mixed rocks ultimately provided diverse geochemical gradients, which in present-day craters support the growth of microbial communities. ..
  9. Sheehan P, Fastovsky D, Hoffmann R, Berghaus C, Gabriel D. Sudden extinction of the dinosaurs: latest Cretaceous, upper Great Plains, USA. Science. 1991;254:835-9 pubmed
    ..The findings are in agreement with an abrupt extinction event such as one caused by an asteroid impact. ..
  10. Kerr R. Planetary science. A smashing source of early Martian water?. Science. 2002;298:1866 pubmed
  11. Brown P, Spalding R, ReVelle D, Tagliaferri E, Worden S. The flux of small near-Earth objects colliding with the Earth. Nature. 2002;420:294-6 pubmed
    ..From this we estimate that the Earth is hit on average annually by an object with approximately 5 kton equivalent energy, and that Tunguska-like events occur about once every 1,000 years. ..
  12. Chandler D. Planetary science: The burger bar that saved the world. Nature. 2008;453:1164-8 pubmed publisher
  13. Jedicke R. Planetary science: Intermediate impact factors. Nature. 2002;420:273-4 pubmed
  14. Botta O, Glavin D, Kminek G, Bada J. Relative amino acid concentrations as a signature for parent body processes of carbonaceous chondrites. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2002;32:143-63 pubmed
    ..In contrast to CMs, the data from the CI carbonaceous chondrites indicate that the Strecker synthesis was not active on their parent bodies. ..
  15. Knight J. Asteroid rating system makes an impact on the media. Nature. 2002;418:468 pubmed
  16. Montague M, McArthur G, Cockell C, Held J, Marshall W, Sherman L, et al. The role of synthetic biology for in situ resource utilization (ISRU). Astrobiology. 2012;12:1135-42 pubmed publisher
    ..The conclusion is that food production in space environments from in situ material proven to exist there is quite feasible. ..
  17. Kerr R. Evolution. Did an impact trigger the dinosaurs' rise?. Science. 2002;296:1215-6 pubmed
  18. Wittke J, Weaver J, Bunch T, Kennett J, Kennett D, Moore A, et al. Evidence for deposition of 10 million tonnes of impact spherules across four continents 12,800 y ago. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110:E2088-97 pubmed publisher
    ..At 12.8 ka, an estimated 10 million tonnes of spherules were distributed across ?50 million square kilometers, similar to well-known impact strewnfields and consistent with a major cosmic impact event. ..
  19. Yamaguchi A, Clayton R, Mayeda T, Ebihara M, Oura Y, Miura Y, et al. A new source of basaltic meteorites inferred from Northwest Africa 011. Science. 2002;296:334-6 pubmed
    ..The presence of basaltic meteorites with variable oxygen isotopic composition suggests the occurrence of multiple basaltic meteorite parent bodies, perhaps similar to 4 Vesta, in the early solar system. ..
  20. Becker L, Poreda R, Hunt A, Bunch T, Rampino M. Impact event at the Permian-Triassic boundary: evidence from extraterrestrial noble gases in fullerenes. Science. 2001;291:1530-3 pubmed
    ..These data imply that an impact event (asteroidal or cometary) accompanied the extinction, as was the case for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event about 65 million years ago. ..
  21. Raup D. Extinction from a paleontological perspective. Eur Rev. 1993;1:207-16 pubmed
    ..Extinction certainly plays an important role in evolution, but whether it is constructive or destructive has not yet been determined. ..
  22. Maher K, Stevenson D. Impact frustration of the origin of life. Nature. 1988;331:612-4 pubmed
  23. Bada J, Bigham C, Miller S. Impact melting of frozen oceans on the early Earth: implications for the origin of life. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994;91:1248-50 pubmed
    ..Thaw-freeze cycles associated with bolide impacts could have been important for the initiation of abiotic reactions that gave rise to the first living organisms. ..
  24. Alexander C, Bowden R, Fogel M, Howard K, Herd C, Nittler L. The provenances of asteroids, and their contributions to the volatile inventories of the terrestrial planets. Science. 2012;337:721-3 pubmed publisher
    ..The bulk hydrogen and nitrogen isotopic compositions of CI chondrites suggest that they were the principal source of Earth's volatiles. ..
  25. Sheppard S, Trujillo C. A thick cloud of Neptune Trojans and their colors. Science. 2006;313:511-4 pubmed
    ..Our color measurements show that Neptune Trojans have statistically indistinguishable slightly red colors, which suggests that they had a common formation and evolutionary history and are distinct from the classical Kuiper Belt objects. ..
  26. Greenwood R, Franchi I, Jambon A, Barrat J, Burbine T. Oxygen isotope variation in stony-iron meteorites. Science. 2006;313:1763-5 pubmed
    ..The stony-iron meteorites demonstrate that intense asteroidal deformation accompanied planetary accretion in the early Solar System. ..
  27. Fitzsimmons A. Planetary science. Ice among the rocks. Science. 2006;312:535-6 pubmed
  28. Gladman B, Dones L, Levison H, Burns J. Impact seeding and reseeding in the inner solar system. Astrobiology. 2005;5:483-96 pubmed
    ..Early bacterial life on Earth could have been safeguarded from any purported impact-induced extinction by temporary refuge in space. ..
  29. Alvarez L. Mass extinctions caused by large bolide impacts. Phys Today. 1987;40:24-33 pubmed
  30. Claeys P, Goderis S. Solar system: lethal billiards. Nature. 2007;449:30-1 pubmed
  31. Zhang Q, Xu D. Inquiring into indicators and origin of catastrophic events at stratigraphic boundaries. J Southeast Asian Earth Sci. 1996;13:373-8 pubmed
    ..We support the hypothesis of the extraterrestrial origin of catastrophic events and suggest that the events at different stratigraphic boundaries might be different in features and processes. ..
  32. Basiuk V, Navarro Gonzalez R. Dust in the Universe: implications for terrestrial prebiotic chemistry. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 1995;25:457-93 pubmed
    ..Until these gaps are filled, it seems reasonable to focus efforts of the scientists dealing with dust-driven catalytic formation of prebiotically important compounds on the volcanic and meteoritic/cometary impact environments. ..
  33. Anders E. Pre-biotic organic matter from comets and asteroids. Nature. 1989;342:255-7 pubmed
    ..It may have included some biologically important compounds that did not form by abiotic synthesis on Earth. ..
  34. Whitmire D, Doyle L, Reynolds R, Matese J. A slightly more massive young Sun as an explanation for warm temperatures on early Mars. J Geophys Res. 1995;100:5457-64 pubmed
    ..2(-0.2, +0.4) Gyr of the Sun's main sequence phase. The implied mass-loss rate of 4(+3, -2) x 10(-11) M solar yr-1, or about 10(3)x that of the current Sun, may be detectable in several nearby young solar type stars. ..
  35. Olsen P, Kent D, Sues H, Koeberl C, Huber H, Montanari A, et al. Ascent of dinosaurs linked to an iridium anomaly at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Science. 2002;296:1305-7 pubmed
    ..Eastern North American dinosaurian diversity reached a stable maximum less than 100,000 years after the boundary, marking the establishment of dinosaur-dominated communities that prevailed for the next 135 million years. ..
  36. Raup D. Biological extinction in earth history. Science. 1986;231:1528-33 pubmed
    ..Extinction may be constructive in a Darwinian sense or it may only perturb the system by eliminating those organisms that happen to be susceptible to geologically rare stresses. ..
  37. Trefil J, Raup D. Numerical simulations and the problem of periodicity in the cratering record. Earth Planet Sci Lett. 1987;82:159-64 pubmed
    ..We conclude that the real record is most likely to have been generated by a mixture of random and periodic impacts, with the random events constituting the majority. ..
  38. Kerr R. Impact cratering. A big splat in the asteroid belt doomed Earth's dinosaurs. Science. 2007;317:1310 pubmed
  39. Oro J, Mills T. Chemical evolution of primitive solar system bodies. Adv Space Res. 1989;9:105-20 pubmed
    ..Some of the outstanding problems concerning the synthesis of organic molecules on different cosmic bodies are also discussed from an exobiological perspective. ..
  40. Rabinowitz D, Helin E, Lawrence K, Pravdo S. A reduced estimate of the number of kilometre-sized near-Earth asteroids. Nature. 2000;403:165-6 pubmed
    ..We find that the total number of asteroids with diameters > 1 km is about half the earlier estimates. At the current rate of discovery of near-Earth asteroids, 90% will probably have been detected within the next 20 years. ..
  41. Bosiek K, Hausmann M, Hildenbrand G. Perspectives on Comets, Comet-like Asteroids, and Their Predisposition to Provide an Environment That Is Friendly to Life. Astrobiology. 2016;16:311-23 pubmed publisher
  42. Kerr R. Paleontology. Evidence of huge, deadly impact found off Australian coast?. Science. 2004;304:941 pubmed
  43. Smit J, Montanari A, Swinburne N, Alvarez W, Hildebrand A, Margolis S, et al. Tektite-bearing, deep-water clastic unit at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in northeastern Mexico. Geology. 1992;20:99-103 pubmed
    ..An iridium anomaly (921 +/- 23 pg/g) is observed at the top of the ripple beds. Our observations at the Mimbral locality support the hypothesis of a K-T impact on nearby Yucatán. ..
  44. Chyba C, Sagan C. Endogenous production, exogenous delivery and impact-shock synthesis of organic molecules: an inventory for the origins of life. Nature. 1992;355:125-32 pubmed
    ..Endogenous, exogenous and impact-shock sources of organics could each have made a significant contribution to the origins of life. ..
  45. Kerr R. Impact hazard. A little respect for the asteroid threat. Science. 2002;297:1785-7 pubmed
  46. Pilcher C. Conversations: with Carl Pilcher [interview by Johan Benson]. Aerosp Am. 1998;36:16-8 pubmed
  47. Lawler A. Solar system exploration. Planetary science's defining moment. Science. 2002;295:32-7 pubmed
  48. Kasting J. Bolide impacts and the oxidation state of carbon in the Earth's early atmosphere. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 1992;20:199-231 pubmed
    ..Formaldehyde may have been produced even more efficiently by photochemical reduction of bicarbonate and formate in Fe(++)-rich surface waters. ..
  49. Chyba C, Thomas P, Brookshaw L, Sagan C. Cometary delivery of organic molecules to the early Earth. Science. 1990;249:366-73 pubmed
    ..These results may be put in context by comparison with terrestrial oceanic and total biomasses, approximately 3 x 10(12) kilograms and approximately 6 x 10(14) kilograms, respectively. ..
  50. Matheny J. Reducing the risk of human extinction. Risk Anal. 2007;27:1335-44 pubmed
    ..We review the challenges to studying human extinction risks and, by way of example, estimate the cost effectiveness of preventing extinction-level asteroid impacts. ..
  51. Cruikshank D, Allamandola L, Hartmann W, Tholen D, Brown R, Matthews C, et al. Solid C triple bond N bearing material on outer solar system bodies. Icarus. 1991;94:345-53 pubmed
  52. Mitchell J, Roopnarine P, Angielczyk K. Late Cretaceous restructuring of terrestrial communities facilitated the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in North America. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109:18857-61 pubmed publisher
    ..Therefore, earlier ecological restructuring may have exacerbated the impact and severity of the end-Cretaceous extinction, at least in North America. ..
  53. Lumme K, Peltoniemi J, Irvine W. Some photometric techniques for atmosphereless solar system bodies. Adv Space Res. 1990;10:187-93 pubmed
    ..It is shown how important the correct scattering law is while deriving the topography by photoclinometry. ..