What Is a Meteorite? Facts, Statistics, and More
There is no mystery greater than that of space. In fact, space travel despite being so horrendously expensive, is still so popular, because human beings are fascinated by anything to do with it. One of the best ways to ponder about the mysteries of space and understand the universe better is through the study of a meteorite.
It's literally like a piece of outer space coming to visit us on Earth.
If you are interested in learning more facts and statistics about meteorites, keep reading!
What Is a Meteor?
Meteorites are bits of asteroids that have zoomed through space and survived the Earth's atmosphere to land on the Earth's surface. Most meteorites do not survive the fiery journey across our oxygen-rich atmosphere, and that's why being able to touch an iron meteorite is such a divine experience.
If you remember your Astronomy class from high school, you will know that there is an asteroid belt in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They are a jumble of rocks, that range in size from nearly 1000 kilometers in diameter to microscopic dust particles.
When these asteroids collide with each other, they can be sent zooming into space, forming meteors. Not only that, but the heat from the sun warms them up more on one side, resulting in a gradual push, called the Yarkovsky Effect. Whatever causes it, some asteroids aren't able to stay in their happy family forever and go exploring into space. Some of them zoom in Earth's direction.
What Does a Meteorite Look Like?
Meteorites are fragments of shattered asteroids, and therefore, are made up of a variety of materials. They fall into 3 broad categories:
- A stony meteorite made of silicate minerals primarily
- An iron meteorite made of metallic iron-nickel primarily
- A stony-iron meteorite containing both metallic and rocky materials
Stony meteorites are the most common by far, as 95% of the meteorites falling to Earth are stony ones. You can see what an Authentic Kenya Sericho Pallasite Olivine Meteorite looks like here. Absolutely stunning, isn't it? No wonder people are always looking for a meteorite for sale. Ensure that when you purchase a meteorite, that it comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Meteor vs Meteorite?
Are you wondering about the difference between meteor and meteorite. Let's get all the different terms straight.
- Meteor - when an asteroid comes hurtling into the atmosphere but burns up BEFORE reaching the Earth's surface
- Meteorite - when an asteroid comes into the Earth's atmosphere but survives to reach the ground
- Meteoroids - any object in space that ranges from dust particles to small asteroids
As you can see, the difference is merely in where the asteroid is located.
Types of Meteorites
There are many ways to classify meteorites. We have already seen one way, depending on what material the meteorite is made up of. But there is another way to classify it. And that depends on where the meteorite comes from.
Not all meteorites come from the asteroid belt, as mentioned above. Let's see what the other possibilities might be.
Whenever a piece of rock gets blasted off from the surface of a planet in our solar system, it zooms off into space and might end up landing on the Earth's surface. That's why it's always so exciting when a meteor lands on the Earth - you might be holding a piece of Mars or Mercury. How cool is that!
Because our beautiful Moon doesn't have an atmosphere, there is nothing preventing hundreds of asteroids from hurtling onto its surface regularly. You can see this when you look through the telescope at the Moon's cratered surface. Just like with planets, when a piece of rock gets blasted off the Moon's surface, it could very likely zoom towards the Earth and land on the ground.
Comets are made of dust, rocks, and ice and are usually found beyond the orbit of Neptune in our solar system. The most well-known one has to be Halley's Comet, which is visible from Earth every 75-76 years. It's the only one that's visible to the naked eye and appearing in one's lifetime twice. Sometimes comets hurtle through space and land on the Earth's surface.
Some Fun Facts about Meteorites
Scientists study meteorites because they are pieces of ancient celestial bodies and give us information about the origin of this solar system we live in. That has to be the coolest fact about meteorites. If you hold a meteorite in your hand, you are literally holding a piece of the origin of this world you are in.
Other facts about meteorites to know:
- There are no confirmed reports of a human being killed by a meteorite, so need to worry about that
- Tiny meteors enter the Earth's atmosphere every single day
- NASA says meteors the size of a car enter the Earth's atmosphere every year
- And every 2000 years, we should expect a large asteroid to hit Earth
- The most damaging meteor strike was to the Siberian forest in 1908, a megaton-scale explosion
- In 1911, a 40 kg boulder from Mars hit a dog in Egypt and killed it
- Scientists used the age of certain primitive meteoroids to determine the age of the solar system (4.568 billion years)
Now you are a bit of an expert on meteorites and can start searching for your own, perhaps on a rocky beach somewhere? Who knows, you might end up finding the next big stony-iron meteorite.
Buy a Meteorite for Yourself from Kalifano
If you think having a piece of the solar system is the way to go, then check out Kalifano's meteorite collection today. Once you see these intricately designed rocks, you will want one for yourself, to be sure. They are gorgeous and look like they are inlaid with gemstones and gold.
Kalifano also has gemstones of all kinds to entice you. If you are a gemstone lover, you will definitely want to check out Kalifano's extensive collection. If you are searching for something specific, contact us and we will be happy to help you with your search.