were discovered in 1801 by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. Most of
them originate from the asteroid belt between Mars
where over a million stone, iron or nickel giants hang in orbit awaiting
the day when a collision or a shift in Jupiter's gravitational field sets
one on a deadly trajectory.
In the latter half of the 20th Century science came to realize that large asteroids posed more than just a potential danger for Earth, having struck the planet at regular intervals over billions of years. In 1990, a scientific milestone was reached with the discovery that Mexico's Chicxulub crater near the Yucatan Peninsula was caused by a 9.3-mile-wide object that hit 65 million years ago. This may have been responsible for the demise of two-thirds of animal species, including the dinosaurs.
a) Scientists estimate that the asteroid had a velocity of 20 km/s when it slammed into the Earth. Calculate the velocity of the asteroid when it was at a distance equivalent to that of the Earth-Moon separation.
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