Some Notable Asteroids Average Orbital Speed
433 Eros: Found in the main asteroid belt, this odd-shaped near-earth asteroid has an average orbital velocity of 24.360 kilometers per second. With a size twice that of Manhattan island, the asteroid was first discovered by Gustav Witt on August 13, 1898. It is the first asteroid to have been visited by a NASA spacecraft, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker. The spacecraft landed on Eros’ surface on February 12, 2001.
Ceres: The largest object that orbits in between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt, Ceres has an average orbital speed of 17.822 kilometers per second. It was discovered in 1801 by the Italian monk and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. In 2006, Ceres was classified as a dwarf planet.
951 Gaspra: With an average orbital velocity of 19.88 kilometers per second, Gaspra orbits in the main asteroid belt. It was the first asteroid to have been closely approached by the Galileo spacecraft on October 29 1991.
Vesta: The second largest object orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, Vesta has an average orbital velocity of 19.34 kilometers per second. It is also known to be the brightest asteroid in the main asteroid belt. It was discovered by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807.
The NASA spacecraft Dawn entered the Vesta orbit on July 15, 2011 and since then it has been orbiting this giant asteroid with the aim to get a closer look of the asteroid. The information collected so far includes amazing images of the asteroid surface captured with the framing camera aboard the spacecraft.
The Dawn mission is part of NASA’s Discovery program. Launched in September 2007, the spacecraft approached Vesta in July 2011, and will reach Ceres in 2015. The objective of the mission is to study large asteroids like Vesta and Ceres and in order to find out how the solar system was formed.