After a meteorite hit Chelyabinsk in Russia last week, there has been a lot of confusion around those stones falling from space. Specifically, how do you call them? What are the differences? This is a great summary by narwhal creative.
- Comet – a rock originally from the outside of our Solar system
- Asteroid – a rock from the Solar system, can be bounced towards Earth
- Meteoroid – a space rock smaller than an asteroid
- Meteor – this is not a rock, but the streak of light caused by an asteroid burning in our atmosphere
- Meteorite – this is an asteroid or meteoroid that actually hit the ground
So, to sum it up, an asteroid causes a meteor when it burns in the atmosphere, and if it doesn’t burn completely and strikes the ground, it becomes a meteorite.