Asteroids, also known as minor planets, are small bodies of rock orbiting the Sun. Most asteroids are found in the region called the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Since the first asteroid, 1 Ceres, was discovered by Giuseppi Piazza thousands more have been catalogued.
One recent development in this field of interest is the first ever landing on an asteroid. NEAR Shoemaker (Near Earth Rendezvous spacecraft) had been orbiting the asteroid Eros since it arrived there. It had been pouring in information and pictures about the asteroid for a long time. But near the end of its mission, they decided to attempt landing the spacecraft on the asteroid. On February 12, 2001 NEAR Shoemaker dropped to the surface of Eros still intact and reutrning data to earth. It managed this ladning without parachutes, cushions, or any type of protection from the fall. New and exciting data is coming in now and will hopefully better the science of asteroids.