Glossary term: Asteroid Belt

Description: The asteroid belt is located in a region between the planets Mars and Jupiter; orbiting in this region are the dwarf planet Ceres and a huge number of mainly small asteroids that consist primarily of rocks and some minerals. The asteroid belt has been described as the main asteroid belt in order to distinguish it from other small bodies that are found in the Solar System, i.e. the near-Earth objects and the Trojan group.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".

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The asteroid Ceres, roughly spherical with a grey surface, many craters, some of which reveal white subsurface water ice.


Caption: True-colour image of the asteroid Ceres acquired by the spaceprobe Dawn in May 2015, at a distance of 13641 km. The prominent, bright crater at right is Haulani. The smaller bright spot to its left is exposed on the floor of Oxo. Ejecta from these impacts appears to have exposed bright material, probably water ice.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / Justin Cowart

License: CC-BY-2.0 Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic icons

The asteroid Ida is grey and shaped like a potato with lots of shallow craters. It's moon Dactyl is 40 times smaller

Ida and Dactyl

Caption: This picture of the asteroid Ida with its satellite Dactyl was taken by the Galileo space probe in August 1993 from a range of 10,870 kilometers (6,755 miles). Ida is a heavily cratered, irregularly shaped asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This image is proof that asteroids like the 56 km large Ida can possess their own moons.
Credit: NASA/JPL credit link

License: PD Public Domain icons