What is a meteorite?
14th October 2021

SPACE is a vacuum which holds gas, dust and other bits of matter that float aimlessly across the galaxy.

Along with planets, stars and galaxies, space is also the home of meteorites which sometimes make their way onto earth.

What is a meteorite?

Meteorites, not to be confused with meteors, are known as solid pieces of debris which typically come from the asteroid belt which orbits between Mars and Jupiter.

The debris in meteorites typically comes from a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid.

The major difference between meteorites and meteors is that meteors burn up before reaching the ground while meteorites can strike the Earth.

Meteorites typically come towards Earth after a collision within the asteroid belt sends chunks flying towards us.

Larger ones that end up hitting the moon or Mars have also been known to send smaller chunks our way.

While many people believes meteorites had a role in making dinosaurs extinct, research has shown over the years that it was actually asteroids that caused the extinction.

Has anyone ever died from a meteorite?

So far, there have been no reports of anyone ever dying from rocks that come from space, however, over the years, there have been a few close calls.

According to New Scientist, in 1911, a 40-kilogram boulder from Mars killed a dog in Egypt and then a boy in 1992 was hit but not seriously injured by a small meteorite.

In 2021, a Canadian woman was nearly hit in the head with a meteorite that landed on her pillow after it smashed through her roof.

Are there different types of meteorites?

While a meteorite might seem simple, there are different kinds according to the Natural History Museum.

The three main types of meteorites include:

  • Iron meteorites, which are almost entirely made of metal
  • Stony-iron meteorites, which are almost equal amounts of both metal and silicate crystals
  • Stony meteorites, which are mostly composed of silicate minerals

Other uncommon types include: Pallasites, Mesosiderites, Chondrites and Achondrites.

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