January 2020 [ Volume : 45 Number : 1 ]
FACTS ABOUT METEOROID
- A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids).
- A meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere is known as a meteor. If you've ever looked up at the sky at night and seen a streak of light or 'shooting star' what you are actually seeing is a meteor.
- A meteoroid that survives falling through the Earth's atmosphere and colliding with the Earth's surface is known as a meteorite.
- The fastest meteoroids travel through the solar system at a speed of around 42 kilometres per second (26 miles per second).
- The Earth's atmosphere experiences millions of meteors every day.
- Meteors are easier to see during the lower light conditions of night.
- A small percentage of meteoroids fly on a path that goes into the Earth's atmosphere and then back out again, they are known as Earth grazing fireballs.
- When many meteors occur in a close time frame in the same part of the sky it is called a meteor shower.
- Around 500 meteorites reach the Earth's surface every year but of those only around 5 ever make it to scientists for study.