Remarkable new research has found that 85% of 200,000 asteroids in the inner belt come from these planets that never made it to adulthood.
Researchers from the University of Florida found these space rocks came from the splintering, or breaking up, of the ancient minor planets that existed four billion years ago.
It is also possible that the remaining 15% came from these bodies.
Asteroids are small rocky bodies that orbit the Sun, according to NASA.
Meanwhile, meteorites are rocks that land on the Earth’s surface, most of which are fragments of asteroids that broke up long ago.
The new findings help to understand how asteroids evolved and the materials they contain.
It’s knowledge that could be useful in deflecting large, potentially hazardous space rocks on course to strike Earth.
That’s according to Stanley Dermott, a theoretical astronomer from the University of Florida and lead author of the study.
“These large bodies whiz by the Earth, so of course we’re very concerned about how many of these there are and what types of material are in them,” he said.
“If ever one of these comes towards the earth, and we want to deflect it, we need to know what its nature is.”
A 1.5m long piece of meteorite is pulled from lake Chebarkul
In their paper, the astronomers showed that the type of orbit an asteroid has depends on its size.
In light of this, they concluded that the differences in meteorites found on Earth could only be explained by processes taking place in a handful of large precursor bodies, and not in lots of tiny objects, as previously thought.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually trace the origins of all asteroids in the main asteroid belt, not just those in the inner belt, to a small number of known parent bodies,” Dermott said.
The study could have implications for determining where Earth-like planets may exist in the universe, according to Dermott, as well as shining a light on the materials that shaped our own planet.
Deep Space Industries/ Versteeg
Water extracted from an asteroid can be used as propellant for the return trip
“We’re very concerned about how many asteroids there are”
This month marks 110 years since the Tunguska Asteroid Impact in Siberia – the largest asteroid strike in recorded history.
It showered a 830-square mile area with meteorites and had the energy of 100 atom bombs.
If it had struck in London, at least 10million people could have perished.
In more recent times, the Chelaninsk meteor streaked across the skies of Russian skies on February 15, 2015.
The discovery last October of ‘Oumuama, the first known interstellar object to pass through the Solar System, has renewed the focus on asteroid missions, such as ESA’s AIM/Hera, and NASA’s NEOCam.
There are Millions of Asteroids in the solar system, usually found in the Asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, however those in that pass the Earth are called Near-Earth objects
Last month, the US space agency unveiled its plans to protect the Earth from asteroid.
The agency previously admitted there were thousands of undetected space rocks.
To date, astronomers have spotted more than 8,000 near-Earth asteroids that are at least 140 meters wide – big enough to wipe out an entire US state if they were to line up our planet in their crosshairs.
NASA is currently busy preparing for the arrival of the enormous asteroid Bennu.
That space rock is said to be the size of the Empire State Building.