11.1 - Be able to use data about the names and relative locations of bodies in the Solar System, including:
c) Small Solar System Objects (SSSOs): asteroids, meteoroids

Most asteroids consist of rock, iron and silicate. Asteroids between Mars and Jupiter are thought to be either the debris of an old planet that broke up or the raw materials of a forming planet that failed due to the gravitational influence of Jupiter.

The largest asteroid was the first to be discovered. Ceres is slightly larger than the British Isles, with a diameter of 1000 kilometres and was discovered in 1801. Most asteroids are significantly smaller than this.

The majority of asteroids orbit within the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in an area called the Asteroid Belt.

Larger asteroids that were found first were given mythological names. When the ancient names ran out, more imaginative names were given. They are usually given numerical names when immediately discovered. Subject to rules and approval by the International Astronomy Union, discoverers can decide on the name of 'their' asteroid.

Other objects orbiting between Jupiter and the Kuiper Belt with eccentric orbits are called Centaurs.


  • Describe the composition of asteroids.
  • Describe the location of the Asteroid Belt.