Difference Between Meteor and Meteorite

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Meteors and Meteorites Difference

In the year 1969, a celestial light show burst through the sky over Chihuahua, Mexico; those light bursts are called Meteors.

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As we said that light bursts are Meteors, so are they called Meteorites or Meteoroids? No, they are not. There are many other kinds of objects like dust particles, rocky particles that travel in space or hit the Earth’s atmosphere viz: Meteorites, Meteoroids.

So, are Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites the same? No, they are not; however, they’re closely related. 

In this article, we will understand what are Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites and find the difference among these.


Compare and Contrast Meteoroids Meteors and Meteorites 


Meteoroids

The light shows we see in the sky are because of the small rocky particles; these rocky particles are called meteoroids.


What Does Meteor Mean?

A big spot of light descending quickly in a straight line is called Meteor. 


What Does Meteorite Mean?

A rocky particle that takes a long trip and hits the Earth’s surface is called Meteorite.


Difference Between a Meteor and Meteorite

A meteoroid is a huge ball equal to the size of the car that transforms into a huge hot ball by its resistance to the air and this huge burning ball is a Meteor that breaks into pieces, the pieces that reach the Earth’s surface are called Meteorites.


If we go back to the history of the light burst show in Mexico, in the year 1969, an object equivalent to the size of a car started flying in space, and that object was meteoroid. You can see in the image below:

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Meteoroids are smaller than asteroids and comets; they orbit the Sun and fall at a minimum speed of 25,000 miles per hour.


In February 1969, when this meteoroid hit the Earth’s atmosphere at pace, because of the friction between it and the air, the meteoroid started looking like a fireball, as we can see in the image below:

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And this fireball or hot ball seemed like a brightening ball descending the sky. Now, this fireball, as you can see across the sky during nights looked like a ‘Meteor’ is called ‘Meteoroid’.


So, a meteoroid is a huge ball equal to the size of the car that transforms into a huge hot ball by its resistance with the air and this huge burning ball is a meteor that breaks into pieces. The pieces that reach the Earth’s surface are called meteorites.


Now, what happened next is, this huge ball didn’t burn the Earth atmosphere (in simple terms, it didn’t cause global warming), it actually, exploded into pieces just like you burn a cracker for a festival celebration and it breaks into pieces, as you can see in the image below:

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You can look at the image below to showcase pieces of meteoroids falling on the Earth’s surface:

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So, basically, a meteroid is a huge ball equal to the size of a car that transforms into a huge hot ball by its resistance with the air and this huge burning ball is a Meteor that breaks into pieces, and the pieces that actually reach the Earth’s surface are called Meteorites.


Now, all these Meteoroids didn’t burn and appeared as Meteors, a few of them made their way along the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground. 

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Since these remains or remnants are not specified and are called Allende Meteorites. You can look at its image below:

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The Allende Meteorites are the oldest objects in the solar system, older than the Earth itself. Now, from where do these Meteoroids come from?


Well! Some of these Meteroides are the fragments or pieces/chunks of asteroids that are larger rocky bodies that orbit the Sun and they are the big belts between Mars and Jupiter. Out of the remaining ones, some are Moon rocks, and some even come from Mars. 


Now you know the difference between a Meteor, a Meteoroid, and a Meteorite. So, whenever you see or observe interplanetary traveler glistening in the sky during the dark is a Meteor caused by a burning Metroid. 


The most beautiful and the luckiest thing would be when you find a meteorite when it strikes the ground. 

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Asteroids & Comets


Asteroids

Asteroids are rocky, vacuum remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. The current asteroid count is 931,942 and they can be more in number.


Below is the list of the largest asteroids in ascending order:

  • Ceres - 939 km 

  • Vesta - 525 km

  • Pallas - 512 km

  • Hygiea - 434 km

Comets

Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, dust, and rocky particles. Comets revolve around the Sun in an elliptical orbit and this revolution is held by the force of gravity, which we already know. 


Now, what happens next is, when they gain the heat of the Sun rays, the dust or the rocky particles captures this heat combine, and turn into a huge hot ball that is larger than the planets of our solar system. This large hot ball is nothing but the Comet. Currently, comets are 3607 or more in number.


A few of the comets are as follows:

  • Hartley 2 

  • Helley’s comet (very popular and mostly heard comet)

  • Borrelly

The exact counting of asteroids, comets and many other particles (like we discussed above) that fly every time in space may require modified technology with persistence and patience. Well! this is uncertain to get an exact count; however, our scientists try their best to get accuracy.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1: Write the Names of Four Exceptional Asteroids with their Respective Characteristics.

Answer: Below is the listed exceptional asteroids with their respective attributes:


Name of the Asteroid

Diameter

Dimension

Mean Distance from the Sun in AU

Date of the Discovery

1 Ceres

939.4 ± 0.2

964.4 x 964.2 x 891.8

2.766 AU

1st January 1801

4 Vesta

5252.4 ± 0.2

572.6 × 557.2 × 446.4 ± 0.2

2.362 AU

29th March 1807

2 Pallas

512 ± 3

550 ± 4 x 516 ± 3 x  476 ± 3

2.773 AU

28th March 1802

10 Hygiea

434 ± 14

450 x 430 x 424

3.139

12th April 1849

Question 2: List the Three Types of Meteorites.

Answer: 

  • Iron Meteorites - Completely metallic.

  • Stoney Meteorites - Mostly have Silicate minerals.

  • Stoney-Iron Meteorites - Equal proportion of Iron and Silicates crystals.

Question 3: What Do You Mean By a Meteor?

Answer: Meteor is a small body in space that collides with Erath or another planet. In simple language, we call Meteor a shooting star. 

Question 4: How Many Times Meteors Hit the Earth Daily, and in a Year?

Answer: According to the research revealed by the scientists, every day around 61,000 Meteors hit the Earth daily and 500 Meteorites in a year.