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Asteroids : A History - Curtis Peebles


A History

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Asteroids suggest images of a catastrophic impact with Earth, triggering infernos, tidal waves, famine, and death -- but these scenarios have obscured the larger story of how asteroids have been discovered and studied. During the past two centuries, the quest for knowledge about asteroids has involved eminent scientists and amateur astronomers, patient research and sudden intuition, advanced technology and the simplest of telescopes, newspaper headlines and Cold War secrets. Today, researchers have named and identified the mineral composition of these objects. They range in size from 33 feet to 580 miles wide and most are found in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Covering all aspects of asteroid investigation, Curtis Peebles shows how ideas about the orbiting boulders have evolved. He describes how such phenomena as the Moon's craters and dinosaur extinction were gradually, and by some scientists grudgingly, accepted as the results of asteroid impacts. He tells how a band of icy asteroids rimming the solar system, first proposed as a theory in the 1940s, was ignored for more than forty years until renewed interest and technological breakthroughs confirmed the existence of the Kuiper Belt. Peebles also chronicles the discovery of Shoemaker-Levy 9, a comet with twenty-two nuclei that crashed into Jupiter in 1994, releasing many times the energy of the world's nuclear arsenal.

Showing how asteroid research is increasingly collaborative, the book provides insights into the evolution of scientific ideas and the ebb and flow of scientific debate.

Industry Reviews

Asteroids: A History includes an astonishing numbero f facts about the discovery, the naming and the fate of the stepchildren of the solar system... Peebles provides an informative discussion of the pivotal role played by technology in the discovery of smaller and smaller members of this chaotic family. Astronomy In recounting controversies sparked by asteroid research, Peebles transports readers far beyond Jupiter and then back again, to a huge crater in northern Arizona... Peopling his real-life chronicle with unpredictable personalities and punctuating it with feats of intellectual wizardry, Peebles leaves mere science fiction far behind. Booklist

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Discovery of the Asteroidsp. 3
Vermin of the Skiesp. 12
The Modern Erap. 29
Apollos, Amors, Atens, and Close Calls: the Near-Earth Asteroidsp. 56
Far Frontiers: From the Trojans to the Kuiper Beltp. 81
Asteroid Space Missionsp. 99
The Name's the Thing!p. 121
3043 San Diego: the Unwanted Honorp. 138
Impactp. 157
Shoemaker-Levy 9p. 186
Planetary Defensep. 214
The Third Century of Asteroid Studiesp. 237
Notesp. 247
Indexp. 269
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781560983897
ISBN-10: 1560983892
Series: Smithsonian history of aviation & spaceflight series
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 280
Published: 28th September 2000
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.62 x 15.7  x 2.13
Weight (kg): 0.53