This artist's conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun.
New data from NASA's NEOWISE project, based on observations made by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), have revealed the sizes and reflectivity of members of these asteroids families. The findings are helping scientists better understand how the families formed and evolved.
NEOWISE is the asteroid-hunting portion of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission, which scanned the entire sky twice in infrared light before entering hibernation mode in 2011.
Illustration credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Note: For more information, see NASA's WISE Mission Finds Lost Asteroid Family Members and New Asteroid Families Discovered.