(587)What Are Meteors and Meteorites Made of?

Meteors and meteorites, space-shooting stars, have fascinated people for thousands of years. From old stories and legends to the latest scientific research, these things in the sky have a special place in our minds. Meteors, also called “shooting stars,” are the bright streaks of light we see when a small piece of space debris burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

On the other hand, meteorites are pieces of space rocks that make it through the fiery fall and land on Earth. They tell us about how our solar system formed and changed over time. Come on an exciting journey through space and time to learn about meteors and meteorites.

What Are Meteors?

Meteors, also called shooting stars, are pieces of space dust and debris that burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving bright streaks across the night sky. Meteor showers happen when the Earth moves through a comet’s or asteroid’s dusty orbital trail. This causes many streaks of light to appear in the sky. Various meteor types include Earth-grazing meteors, fireballs, and bolides.

  • Earth grazers are meteors that appear close to the horizon and have the most colorful and longest tails.
  • Fireballs are the most common type of meteor. These are brighter and last longer than an earth grazer.
  • Bolides usually happen in the atmosphere and are bigger than fireballs. Their eruptions make a sonic boom that can be heard and noticed on Earth.

What Are Meteorites?

When two asteroids crash into each other, a small piece of each asteroid breaks off. Meteoroids are the leftover pieces of asteroids that hit the Earth. A meteorite is a piece of a meteoroid that made it through the atmosphere and landed on Earth. Even though most meteorites are small, they can be as big as 100 kilograms or as small as a fraction of a gram (the size of a pebble). Three main types of meteors are iron, stony-iron, and stony.

  • Iron meteors are made of 100 percent iron and nickel.
  • Stony-iron meteors are made up of 50 percent iron and 50 percent silicates.
  • Stoney meteors are made up of 10 to 15 percent iron and nickel and 85 to 90 percent silicates.

Meteor Vs Meteorites 

The difference between meteors and meteorites can help clarify these concepts.

Meteor: They disappear or break up in the air and don’t reach the Earth’s surface.

Meteorites: Due to their size, they don’t disappear or break up in the air to reach the Earth’s surface.

Meteors:  They are small rocks that travel through space.

Meteorites: They are part of the asteroid that stays out in space.

Meteor: On their way to Earth, they leave a light trail and glow but don’t touch the ground.

Meteorites: On their way to Earth, they glow and leave a trail but also touch the ground.

Meteor:  They are just burning rocks with no minerals in them.

Meteorites: They are made of minerals like silicate, iron, nickel, and others.

People often think that both are the same things, So we explained the difference between a meteor and a meteorite is important. Meteors are made of rock, and meteorites are made of iron and nickel. Both can have different minerals in them, like olivine and pyroxene.

Even though they are different, meteors and meteorites give us a fascinating look into the universe. They show us what the solar system is made of. Meteors and meteorites give us a unique glimpse into the universe because of how bright they are and what they can teach us.

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