A meteorite is bits of the outer space that enter the earth surface surviving the impact. They are chunks and are no bigger than particles of dust and sand. When in the outer space they are known as meteoroids but once when they enter the earth surface they are called meteors. A meteor is a bright streak of light in the sky, popularly known as the shooting star or falling star, which is produced by the entry of a small meteoroid into the Earth's atmosphere. Maximum meteorites are known to have disintegrated before entering the Earth’s atmosphere; however, around 500 meteorites with sizes ranging from marbles to basketballs successfully reach the Earth’s surface every year. Meteorites have been classified into three broad categories: stony meteorites, iron meteorites and stony-iron meteorites. It is a common assumption that most meteorites which fall are iron, however, only 10% of the meteorites are iron meteorites, the rest are stone or stony iron meteorites. Explore some of the interesting and fun facts about meteorites.
Interesting & Fun Facts on Meteorites
- Meteoroids move very fast. Some enter the Earth's atmosphere at as much as 130,000 miles per hour.
- Meteorites contain the oldest known rocks in our solar system. They also contain 'pre-solar grains', which are minerals that formed around other stars probably billions of years before our solar system was born.
- Up to 4 billion meteoroids fall to Earth every day. But most of them are too tiny to do any noticeable harm.
- In 2004, a 30-foot-wide meteoroid hit the atmosphere over Antarctica, leaving 2 million pounds of dust in its wake. That was enough to seed rain clouds and affect climate all the way on the other side of the planet.
- More than 24,000 meteorites are known to have landed on Earth, but only 34 are believed to have originated on Mars.
- Meteorites are named for the places they were found, which is usually a nearby town or region. If more than one meteorite was found in one place, the same name may be applied, with some numbers following it to distinguish from the other meteorite(s).
- As a meteoroid enters the atmosphere the pressure causes its surface to melt, which later forms into a thin fusion crust when the speed reduces. This crust may be warm or hot immediately after the impact, but the inside of the meteorite remains deep frozen, owing to ages spent in cold space.
- Meteorites have been used by unwary finders such as blacksmith for making anvils, dog bowls, or even to prop up machinery or autos.
- Meteorites, which were observed by people or automated devices as they land on the earth’s surface are called ‘falls’. The other meteorites which were not seen falling on Earth are called ‘finds’. Meteorites often comprise of minerals not found on Earth.
- Some meteorite falls can cause huge impacts. Explosions or shock waves may result when a meteorite hits the Earth’s surface. These sounds can heard over thousands of square kilometers.
- Meteorites have also been found on the Moon and Mars.
- These objects are called meteoroids when they are in space. When they enter the atmosphere, impact pressure causes the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting star.
- As of mid-2006, there are approximately 1,050 witnessed falls having specimens in the world's collections. In contrast, there are over 31,000 well-documented meteorite finds.
- Meteorites are broadly categorized into three types: stony, iron and stony-iron.
- The International Space Station is encrusted with foot-thick layer of Kevlar (material used to make bullet-proof jackets) as it is expected to be hit with 100,000 meteoroids during its 20-year life span.
- Meteor showers are formed by cosmic debris.
- If you happen to discover or come across a meteorite, the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society demands that you should donate 20% of the rock for the purpose of research. You can keep the rest. However, if the meteorite is found in South Africa one has to surrender it to the nearest authority as all the meteorites are protected under the National Heritage Law.