It might be fair to say the rocks from space inspire both wonder and fear among us Earthlings. However, knowing a bit more about meteor and meteorite might eliminate some potential misgivings. While all these rocks originate from space, they have different names based on their location. The difference between meteor and meteorite can help us to understand the basics better and know their comparisons thoroughly. Let us now understand what is the difference between meteor and meteorite.
What is a meteor?
When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speed and due to the atmosphere they burn up, the fireballs or shooting stars are termed as meteors.
What is a meteorite?
When two asteroids collide with each other, there is a small piece that breaks off these asteroids. These pieces from asteroids after the collision are termed as a meteorite.
Difference Between Meteor and Meteorite
The important difference between meteor and meteorite
|Definition||If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes, it becomes a meteor, which is often termed as a shooting star.||A fragment of rock or iron originates from outer space, which is a meteoroid or asteroid, which survives passage through the atmosphere as a meteor to impact the surface of the Earth is termed as a meteorite.|
|Size||They are usually millimeter-sized or smaller||Their size can range from about a fraction of a gram to 100 kilograms|
|Types||There are different types of meteors: Earth grazers, Fireballs, Bolides||Meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories Stony meteorites, iron meteorites, and stony-iron meteorites|
|Origin||Meteors are considered to be part of the Solar System||Meteorite originates from outer space|
|Composition||Meteors are burning rocks||Meteorites contain a combination of metal, magnetic elements, and nickel.|
After learning about the difference between meteor and meteorite, it is important to know the details of meteor and meteorite thoroughly.
The light emitted from a meteoroid or an asteroid as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere and breaks apart. The meteoroid will travel unchanged while it travels in space, but once it hits the Earth’s atmosphere it encounters intense friction and begins to vaporize.
A meteor tail caused by a grain-sized meteoroid is about a meter wide but, because of the high speed of the debris, maybe many miles long. When a meteorite hits the earth’s atmosphere, it does it with a high velocity, which makes it look flashy, and like a fireball.
There are different types of meteors depending on their sizes and brightness. Earth grazers are the meteors that streak close to the horizon and have the longest and vivid tails. Fireballs are the common type of meteor, and they are long-lasting and brighter than earth grazers. Bolides are bigger than fireballs and they mostly explode within the atmosphere. We can hear an explosion and felt on the earth as they produce a sonic boom.
A meteorite is a small asteroid, ranging in size from several microns to 1 meter. Meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds – from 11 to 72 kilometers per second. Generally, meteorites are very small but their size can range from about a fraction of a gram or the size of a pebble to 100 kilograms (220 lbs). Meteorites having a size smaller than 2mm we classify them as micrometeorites.
We classify meteorites into three broad categories, depending on their structure, chemical, and isotopic composition and mineralogy. Stony meteorites are rocks, which made up of silicate minerals; iron meteorites that are largely composed of metallic iron-nickel; and, stony-iron meteorites that contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material.
We also found meteorites on the moon and Mars. Scientists have traced the origination of the meteorites found here on Earth to four other bodies they are the moon, Mars, the asteroid named as 4 Vesta, and the comet named Wild 2. Meteorites are the source of a great deal of the knowledge that we have about the composition of other celestial bodies.
FAQs about Meteor and Meteorite
Q1: How common are meteorite strikes?
Answer: Experts say smaller strikes happen five to 10 times a year. But large meteors such as the one Friday in Russia are rarer, but still occur about every five years. According to Addi Bischoff, who is a mineralogist at the University of Muenster in Germany. Most of them fall over uninhabited areas where they do not injure humans.
Q2.What is a Meteor Shower?
Answer: Scientists estimate that about 48.5 tons (44 tonnes or 44,000 kilograms) of meteoritic material falls on the Earth each day. Almost all the material is vaporized in Earth’s atmosphere, leaving a bright trail fondly called shooting stars. We can see several meteors per hour on any given night. Sometimes the number of meteors increases dramatically these events are termed meteor showers.