Two hundred years after the first asteroid was discovered, asteroids can no longer be considered mere points of light in the sky. Spacecraft missions, advanced Earth-based observation techniques, and state-of-the-art numerical models are continually revealing the detailed shapes, structures, geological properties, and orbital characteristics of these smaller denizens of our solar system. This volume brings together the latest information obtained by spacecraft combined with astronomical observations and theoretical modeling, to present our best current understanding of asteroids and the clues they reveal for the origin an,d evolution of the solar system. This collective knowledge, prepared by a team of more than one hundred international authorities on asteroids, includes new insights into asteroid-meteorite connections, possible relationships with comets, and the hazards posed by asteroids colliding with Earth.
The book's contents include reports on surveys based on remote observation and summaries of physical properties; results of in situ exploration; studies of dynamical, collisional, cosmochemical, and weathering evolutionary processes; and discussions of asteroid families and the relationships between asteroids and other solar system bodies. Two previous Space Science Series volumes have established standards for research into asteroids. Asteroids III carries that tradition forward in a book that will stand as the definitive source on its subject for the next decade.
William F. Bottke is Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute. Alberto Cellino is Astronomer at the Torino Astronomical Observatory. Paolo Paolicchi is Associate Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Pisa. Richard P. Binzel is Professor of Planetary Science at MIT and was the principal editor for the Space Science Series volume Asteroids II. All four have had asteroids named in their honor in recognition of their contributions to the field.