The asteroid belt is situated between the orbits of Mars and the Earth, and it has been studied a lot since its discovery in 1766. We know that the asteroid belt is composed of many celestial bodies, and we know many of them, and many of the asteroids have already got a name.
The celestial bodies that there are
The asteroid belt contains, as it says its name, an enormous quantity of asteroids. It is calculated that this belt contains approximately 960 000 asteroids. Scientists have already put a name at 18 000 asteroids, but there are also another 95 000 that are identified using numbers and letters. However, the number of asteroids that we know is constantly increasing, as each day new asteroids that are in the asteroid belt are discovered.
Apart from asteroids, there has also been discovered a dwarf planet. Ceres, discovered in 1801, was initially and during many times considered as an asteroid until in 2006 it was considered as a dwarf planet. Its consideration as an asteroid was due to its small size. Even if nowadays it is considered a dwarf planet, Ceres is the smallest dwarf planet in the solar system.
Ceres is the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, but however, many other asteroids from the belt have their own satellites. A big quantity of asteroids that own satellites have been discovered, even if their size is very small.
Even if in the asteroid belt there are about 960 000 asteroids, the truth is that it is difficult to impact against one of them. Even if there are many asteroids, the zone that occupies the belt is very large and the asteroids are very separated the ones from the others.
The composition of the asteroids
The asteroids from the belt are mainly composed of rocky materials, as for example rocks, iron, nickel and even platinum. Moreover, less than 50% of asteroids contain silicon compounds, as the minerals that predominate are those named before.
Thanks to the studies about the asteroids of the belt, we know that the quantity of iron contained in the asteroids would be greater than the iron that has used the humanity since its discovery until the actuality. Apart from iron, these asteroids contain materials that are very rare to find on the Earth. For this reason, in the future, all these minerals reserves could be exploited to be used on the Earth. So, the asteroids can be a very big economical resource for humans, as they contain minerals that are very valuable.
On another side, there are also asteroids that contain frozen water (ice). Many theories speculate that the origin of the water, and for consequent of life, in the Earth, was due to the impact of these meteorites, that contain water, against our planet.