The Small Bodies of the Solar System

Our neighborhood around the sun may appear to be dominated by the eight known planets, a handful of dwarf planets, and their moons, but the spaces between these titans are teeming with smaller, lesser-known objects. The International Astronomical Union defines anything orbiting the sun that is not a planet, dwarf planet, or natural satellite as a “small solar-system body.” This includes asteroids, comets, trans-Neptunian objects, minor planets, and basically any other blob of natural material, right down to the smallest meteorite. With ground-based telescopes and specialized space probes, we’ve been able to image and even visit a great number of these small objects recently, discovering a wild array of shapes, sizes, and compositions.

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