Origin of Multikilometer Earth- and Mars-Crossing Asteroids: A Quantitative Simulation

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Science  25 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5385, pp. 2022-2024
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5385.2022

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Orbital dynamic simulations show that many asteroids in the main asteroid belt are driven toward Mars-crossing orbits by numerous weak mean motion resonances, which slowly increase the orbital ellipticity of the asteroids. In addition, half of the Mars-crossing asteroids (MCAs) transition to Earth-crossing asteroids (ECAs) in less than 20 million years. This scenario quantitatively explains the observed number of large ECAs and MCAs.

  • * Died on 2 November 1997 in a mountain accident. The paper is devoted to his memory.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: morby{at}

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