We explain what a meteorite is, its characteristics and differences with asteroids. Also, crashed meteorites on Earth.

Meteorites are objects from space that reach the Earth's surface.

What is a meteorite?

Meteorites or aerolites are rock fragments from outer space through our planet, surviving the friction with the atmosphere, on their way to crash with the Earth crust.

When an object coming from outside the same passes through the atmosphere, its friction generates high temperatures and causes wear. When these rocks disintegrate, even partially, they generate a light trail known as meteor.

Meteorites are, then, meteors that survive their entry into the atmosphere, falling somewhere on the Earth's surface. Both "meteor" and "meteorite" are words from the Greek meteors, which translates "phenomenon in the sky."

A third term used in science is meteoroid, to refer to the particles entering from the atmosphere, regardless of whether or not the atmospheric phenomenon above described.

Meteorites do not exclusively fall on Earth. In Mars and the Moon We have found abundant evidence of impacts, and it is assumed that during the initial stages of the formation of the Solar system, abundance of matter dispersed in space it produced very high meteoric activity.

There are more than 31,000 documented meteorite impacts on our planet. Each one bears the name of the place where his remains are found, followed by letters or numbers.

Meteorite characteristics

Meteorites have an irregular shape and a diverse chemical composition. Rocky meteors are estimated to be more abundant (based at least on impacts on Earth) over metallic or metallic-rocky.

Like the kitesMany of them have material from the formation of the Solar System itself, and can provide valuable scientific information.

Meteorites generally range in size from a few centimeters to several meters, and are usually found in the heart of craters that they generated in their fall. That is why many of them are discovered hundreds or thousands of years later, in the middle of geological explorations.

Meteorite types

Chondrites are a type of stony meteorite.

Meteorites are traditionally classified according to their composition, into three different categories:

  • Stony (rocks). Called aeroliths or lititos, are mainly made up of minerals silicate, either chondrites (more abundant) or achondrites (similar to igneous rocks).
  • Metallic Called siderites, are composed mainly of iron and nickel.
  • Metallic-stony. Intermediate category, which contains both metal and rock, and is called litosiderito.

Difference between asteroid and meteor

The main difference between asteroids and meteoroids has to do with size. Asteroids are larger, though smaller than a planet, and they are floating in space forming belts or simply wandering around. In other words, they have not impacted the earth's surface.

In contrast, meteoroids are smaller, especially after impacting the atmosphere, and are those that reach the earth's surface. It is possible to imagine that an asteroid that fragments releasing smaller pieces that, upon entering our planet, become meteorites.

Largest meteorites that impacted the Earth

The Hoba meteorite struck Namibia and weighs 66 tons.

Some of the largest meteorites that have been recorded on the planet were:

  • Cape York meteorite. Fallen in Savissivik, Greenland, weighing 582 tons.
  • Hoba meteorite. Fallen in Otjozondjupa, Namibia, weighing 66 tons.
  • Gancedo meteorite. Fallen in the Province of Chaco, Argentina, of 30.8 tons.
  • El Chaco meteorite. 28.8 tons dropped in the Province of Chaco, Argentina.
  • Bacubirito meteorite. Fallen in Sinaloa, Mexico, weighing 24 tons.
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