Where do asteroids come from and what are they made of? What clues do they hold about the evolution of the Solar System? Scientists have catalogued hundreds of thousands of asteroids, and many are thought to contain water and amino acids, the building blocks of life. Michael K. Shepard tells the fascinating story of their discovery, and what they can tell us about the history of our own planet. He describes how we find and study asteroids, what they look like through the eyes of powerful telescopes and spacecraft, and plans for future sample return missions. This timely book interweaves accessible scientific explanations with historical background and personal narrative, providing an engaging read for anyone curious about asteroids and what they may mean for our future - both as threats and opportunities.
Michael K. Shepard is a Professor of Geosciences at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, specialising in radar asteroid studies. Prior to this, he worked at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. His latest research involves bouncing radar off a specific group of asteroids, the M-class, which are thought to be metal cores of ancient protoplanets. He has discovered two asteroid moons, and has also been honoured with an asteroid named 20392 Mikeshepard.
Preface; Acknowledgments; 1. It's a small world; 2. A night at the zoo; 3. It came from outer space; 4. A day at the museum; 5. The gambler's fallacy; 6. Remembrance of things past; 7. The ties that bind; 8. Terra incognita; 9. To your scattered bodies go; 10. Scouts, sappers, and miners; Glossary; References; Index.