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The Solar System - Meteoroids, Meteors, And Meteorites

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by kkrish, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    What’s the difference between a meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite?

    They’re all related to the flashes of light called “shooting stars” sometimes seen streaking across the sky. But we call the same object by different names, depending on where it is.


    Meteoroid: Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as “space rocks."

    Meteoroids burn up in the atmosphere and fall to the Earth as dust. Every day, approximately 3000 metric tons of dusty space material falls to Earth.

    Meteoroids travel around the Sun in a variety of orbits and at various speeds. The fastest meteoroids move at about 42 kilometers per second. Most meteoroids are about the size of a pebble. When one of these pieces of debris enters the Earth's atmosphere, friction between the debris and atmospheric gases heats it to the point that it glows and becomes visible to our eyes.

    Meteor:

    When one of these pieces of debris enters the Earth's atmosphere, friction between the debris and atmospheric gases heats it to the point that it glows and becomes visible to our eyes. This streak of light in the sky is known as a meteor.

    The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.

    Most meteors glow for only a few seconds prior to burning up before hitting the Earth's surface. On most dark nights, meteors can be seen. The chance of seeing a meteor with the unaided eye increases after midnight. People often refer to meteors as "falling" or "shooting" stars. The brightest of the meteors are called fireballs. Sonic booms often follow the appearance of a fireball just as thunder often follows lightning. At certain times of the year, more meteors than normal can be seen. When the Earth passes through an orbiting stream of debris from a comet that has broken up, what's known as a meteor shower occurs. Meteor showers take place on about the same dates each year.

    Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage.

    If a rocky meteoroid larger than 25 meters but smaller than one kilometer ( a little more than 1/2 mile) were to hit Earth, it would likely cause local damage to the impact area.

    On the night of November 16, 1966, the Leonid meteor shower, which occurs in November of each year, rained down on Arizona at the rate of 2300 meteors per minute for a 20 minute period.


    Meteor Showers

    What is a Meteor Shower?

    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." Several meteors per hour can usually be seen on any given night. Sometimes the number increases dramatically—these events are termed meteor showers.

    Meteor showers occur annually or at regular intervals as the Earth passes through the trail of dusty debris left by a comet. Meteor showers are usually named after a star or constellation that is close to where the meteors appear in the sky. Perhaps the most famous are the Perseids, which peak in August every year. Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which swings by the Sun every 135 years.

    When Earth encounters many meteoroids at once, we call it a meteor shower.

    Why would Earth encounter many meteoroids at once? Well, comets, like Earth and the other planets, also orbit the sun. Unlike the nearly circular orbits of the planets, the orbits of comets are usually quite lop-sided.

    As a comet gets closer to the sun, some of its icy surface boils off, releasing lots of particles of dust and rock. This comet debris gets strewn out along the comet's path, especially in the inner solar system (where we live) as the sun's heat boils off more and more ice and debris. Then, several times each year as Earth makes its journey around the sun, its orbit crosses the orbit of a comet, which means Earth smacks into a bunch of comet debris.




    Plan ahead

    Here are dates of major meteor showers. Peak viewing times will vary by a day or two each year. Keep in mind: If the moon is full or near full, you may not see many meteors. Some years are better than others for numbers of meteors per hour.

    January: Quadrantids

    April: Lyrids

    May: Eta Aquarids

    July: Delta Aquariids

    August: Perseids

    October: Orionids

    November: Leonids

    December: Geminids

    Quadrantids- December/January

    Meteorite:

    A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface is a meteorite. In Greenland, people dig up meteorites and use the iron in them to make tools.

    If the meteor does not burn up completely, the remaining portion hits the Earth and is then called a meteorite.

    Over 100 meteorites hit the Earth each year. Fortunately, most of them are very small.

    There has only been one report of a "HBM" (hit by meteorite), and that occurred in 1954. Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama was slightly injured when a 19.84 kilogram meteorite crashed through the roof of her home.

    The meteor that hit Ann Hodges
    the metoriete that hit a person..smithsonian magazine.jpg
    Picture courtesy: Smithsonian magazine

    The larger meteorites are believed to have originated in the asteroid belt. Some of the smaller meteorites have been identified as moon rock, while still others have been identified as pieces of Mars.

    Large meteorites that crashed onto the Earth long ago made craters like those found on the Moon. The Barringer Meteorite Crater near Winslow, Arizona is believed to have been formed about 49,000 years ago by the impact of a 300,000 ton meteorite.

    The Barringer Meteorite Crater
    barringer meteorite- apod.nasa.gov.jpg
    Picture courtesy: apod.nasa.gov

    The Hoba iron meteorite is the largest single meteorite known. Its present weight is estimated at 66 tons. Part of the Hoba meteorite has rusted away, therefore it's original weight may have been as much as 100 tons! It has never been removed from its landing sight in Namibia.

    The Hoba Iron meteorite
    hoba - wiki.jpg
    Picture courtesy: Wikipedia

    The largest single meteorite found in the United States is the fifteen ton Willamette (Oregon) iron meteorite found in 1902.
    willmetter-oregon.jpg
    Picture courtesy: Wikipedia.

    Article Information source: nasa.gov


     
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  2. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you for your "Like" @Rihana
    The only person to like my article :)
     
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  3. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @Greenbay for being the second person to like. :)
     
  4. Mistt

    Mistt IL Hall of Fame

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    Kkrish ma'am Thank you for sharing so much information on meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite. Whole article was so interesting to read and knowing many things.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
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  5. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Glad you liked the article @Mistt .
    Thanks for taking the time to read it.
     
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  6. Laks09

    Laks09 Staff Member Finest Post Winner

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    @kkrish - Welcome back! I read your article on a long flight. Now I can pick my high schooler’s brain.
     
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  7. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @Laks09 .
    Did you say High Schooler? High School kids will know more than what I have written.
    Well give it a try:)
    Best wishes!
     
  8. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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