- © 2014 by the Mineralogical Society of America
Asteroids are the leftover precursors to the terrestrial planets. Before the first images of them were sent from space, our knowledge of asteroids relied entirely on ground-based observations and meteorite analysis. Spacecraft images revolutionized our knowledge and geological understanding of their physical properties. They also showed us that asteroids are subjected to various kinds of processes and are incredibly diverse in size, shape, structure, composition, and rotational properties. Therefore, space missions remain necessary to enhance our knowledge of the various components of the asteroid population. In addition, numerical modeling is required to interpret spacecraft images and improve our understanding of the physical processes asteroids experience over their lifetime.