News Release Archive:

News Release 104 of 181

March 9, 1998 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1998-10

Astronomers Track Down Asteroids in Hubble Archive

March 9, 1998: Astronomers have stumbled on an unusual asteroid hunting ground: the thousands of Hubble telescope images stored in the orbiting observatory's archive.

The hunt has yielded a sizable catch of small asteroids about 100. A preliminary analysis suggests that a total population of 300,000 small asteroids essentially rocks just over 1 to 3 kilometers wide (equal to half a mile to two miles) are orbiting between Mars and Jupiter in a band of space debris known as the main belt. Currently, there are 8,319 confirmed main belt asteroids whose orbits have been measured, and about the same number have been sighted but not confirmed. These pictures are a sampling of what astronomers have found. The blue, curved lines mark an asteroid's trail.

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Credit: R. Evans and K. Stapelfeldt (JPL) and NASA