How to tell the difference between a meteor and a meteorite
When it comes to space rocks, there is often a lot of confusion between meteoroids, meteors, and meteorites. In short, a meteoroid is a small piece of rock or dust in space, a meteor is a meteoroid that burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and a meteorite is a meteoroid that survives the journey through the atmosphere and hits the ground. But how can you tell the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?
The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at the rock itself. Meteorites are usually much darker than meteors because they have been through the Earth’s atmosphere and have been heated up by friction. Meteoroids, on the other hand, are usually much lighter in color because they have not been through the atmosphere.
Another way to tell the difference is by looking at the size of the rock. Meteoroids can be anywhere from a few millimeters to a few meters in size, while meteorites are usually much larger, sometimes even weighing several tons.
The last way to tell the difference is by looking at the trajectory of the rock. Meteoroids typically enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high velocity and on a very steep trajectory. This means that they usually burn up completely before they hit the ground. Meteorites, on the other hand, usually enter the atmosphere at a much slower velocity and on a more shallow trajectory. This means that they often survive the journey through the atmosphere and hit the ground.
So, the next time you see a space rock, take a closer look and see if you can tell if it’s a meteoroid, a meteor, or a meteorite!