The meteoroid

No astronomical term is misused so often as the word meteor. It is often misused even scientists, while it would be better to say the meteoroid or meteorite. What is the difference?

No astronomical term is misused so often as the word meteor. It is often misused even scientists, while it would be better to say  meteoroid or meteorite

  • Meteoroid is small solid space object, usually a piece of an asteroid or comet moving in its orbit around the sun. Some (very few) meteoroids are actually fragments of Mars and the Moon.
  • Meteor is a flash of light when the small solid object from space enters the Earth's atmosphere; namely the meteors are called "shooting stars". According to the official definition of the International Meteor Organization, meteoroid is a solid object moving in interplanetary space, the size is much smaller than an asteroid, but much more of the atom. Royal Astronomical Society has put forward a different wording, according to which the meteoroid is the body of a diameter of 100 mkm to 10 m. Other sources limit the meteoroid the size of 30 m.
  • The meteorite is a solid meteoroid that fell on the Earth's surface (and not burned in the atmosphere).

If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, the meteor phenomenon may occur due to air friction - a flash of light, bright enough to see it. If a meteoroid is large enough to reach the Earth, is not fully burned in the atmosphere, it becomes a meteorite. Many people are searching for and collecting meteorites.

There are two main types of meteoroids that have different origins.

  • Cometary meteoroid is a lightweight dust particle, which "dropped" from comet.
  • Asteroid meteoroid, ranging in size from microscopic particles to large stones it's literally a fragment of an asteroid, or the so-called small planets that are rocky body orbiting the Sun.

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