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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Exploring Asteroids: A Window into Solar System History

Josh Emery, Assistant Professor in Earth and Planetary SciencesArts and Sciences

​Before the Earth formed, the Solar System swirled with a large number of small, rocky bodies that later grew into the planets we know today.  Most of those rocks were long ago ejected from the Solar System or swallowed by the Sun and planets.  A small fraction (but still more than a million) remains today, now known as asteroids, providing an important window through which we can view the earliest history of our planetary neighborhood.  Far from benign, however, asteroids have literally impacted the history of the planets, leaving their mark on the geology and biology of Earth.  Researchers at UT (faculty and students) are actively involved in remote characterization of asteroids and in NASA’s ongoing and upcoming spacecraft exploration of asteroids.  The OSIRIS-REx mission, scheduled to launch on Sept 8, will be NASA’s first attempt to bring samples from an asteroid back to Earth.​

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