After a meteor exploded in the sky above Russia a few weeks ago causing a shockwave that blew out countless windows and injured hundreds of people. Many of you emailed me and was wondering what the difference is between an asteroid, a meteor and a meteorite.
A space rock that has a diameter between 100 and 500 miles is called an asteroid. Pieces of space rock from an asteroid are called meteors. When the meteors survive their journey through Earth's atmosphere and hit land, you can call them meteorites.
The Russia meteor was not related to the latest asteroid that just missed earth. NASA says the meteor was traveling in the opposite direction. So the meteor came from some other asteroid way out in the galaxy.
Most meteors burn up while going through the earth's atmosphere leaving behind a brief streak of light. They rarely reach the ground and make it to meteorite status.
Small meteorite strikes happen five to 10 times a year across the entire earth. Large strikes like the one in Russia only occur about every 5 years.
The mass of the latest meteor before it exploded in the earth's atmosphere ranged from 10 to 100 tons. By the time the meteorites reach the ground they are usually very small pieces but very valuable. They can sell for 670 dollars per gram.
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