CONCEPTS

What is a meteorite?

We explain what a meteorite is, its characteristics. and how they differ from asteroids. In addition, starry meteorites on Earth.

  1. What is a meteorite?

Meteorites or aerolytes are fragments of rock from outer space to our planet , which survive the friction with the atmosphere , on their way to crash with the earth’s crust.

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

Meteors 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 meteor , which translates “phenomenon in the sky.”

A third term used in the scientific field is meteoroid , to refer to the particles that enter the atmosphere, regardless of whether or not the atmospheric phenomenon described above occurs .

Meteors do not fall exclusively on Earth . On 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 , the abundance of matter dispersed in space produced a very high meteoric activity.

There are more than 31,000 documented meteor impacts on our planet . Each is named after the place where their remains are found, followed by letters or numbers.

  1. Characteristics of meteorites

Meteorites have an irregular shape and a diverse chemical composition . It is estimated that rocky meteors (according to, at least, the impacts on Earth) are more abundant than metallic or metallic-rocky ones.

Like comets , many of them have material from the very formation of the Solar System, and can provide valuable scientific information.

Meteorites generally have a size that ranges 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.

  1. Types of meteorite

meteorite types condrita rocky
Chondrites are a type of stony meteorite.

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

  • Stony (rocks) . You called meteorites or lititos , they are composed mainly of silicate minerals, whether chondrites (most abundant) or achondrites (like igneous rocks).
  • Metal . Called sideritos , they are mainly composed of iron and nickel.
  • Metallic-stony . Intermediate category, which contains both metal and rock, and is called lithosiderite .
  1. Difference between asteroid and meteorite

The main difference between asteroids and meteoroids has to do with size. The asteroids are larger , although smaller than a planet , and 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, when entering our planet, become meteorites.

  1. Greater meteorites that hit the Earth

Hoba Namibia Meteorite
The Hoba meteorite hit Namibia and weighs 66 tons.

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

  • Meteorito Cape York , fallen in Savissivik, Greenland, of 582 tons of weight.
  • Meteorito Hoba , fallen in Otjozondjupa, Namibia, 66 tons.
  • Meteorito Gancedo , fallen in the Province of Chaco, Argentina, of 30.8 tons.
  • Meteorito El Chaco , fallen in the Province of Chaco, Argentina, of 28.8 tons.
  • Meteorito Bacubirito , fallen in Sinaloa, Mexico, of 24 tons.

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