Difference Between Asteroid and Meteorite

When it comes to the universe, there is a countless range of objects orbiting the sun. It may be fair to say rocks like meteorites and asteroids from space inspire both fears and wonder among us earthlings. Meanwhile knowing how they differ and a bit more about each might eliminate some potential misgivings.  

Both asteroids and meteorites are commonly called celestial bodies, which generally share a few common things like staying close to the planet. Two of them traced their origin from space, but they have distinctive names up to their location. In this article, the chief aim is on differentiating asteroids and meteorites. 

Asteroid vs Meteorite 

The main difference between asteroid and meteorite is that in an elliptical orbit of the asteroid, the distance from the sun fails to vary too much. On the other hand, an elliptical orbit is also present in meteorites, but meteors get pulled into larger bodies such as planets due to their mass. 

Asteroid vs Meteorite

The asteroid can also be referred to as the inner solar system’s minor planets. In the asteroid belt, there are approx asteroids in millions. The asteroid belt which generally has its location between Mars and Jupiter has more than 750,000 asteroids. According to experts, one or two comparison moons have few asteroids.  

In outer space, a small rock composition of the metal is referred to as a meteorite. While taking entry into the earth’s atmosphere, meteorites eventually completely vaporize and fail to reach the surface. During descent, meteorite burn and mainly creates a light trail. 

Comparison Table Between Asteroid and Meteorite 

Parameters of ComparisonsAsteroidMeteorite
OriginLeftover from the planetSmall disintegrated element of an asteroid or comet
LocationIn spaceReach the surface of the planet
SizeIn diameter, 1 to more than 100 kilometersLess than 10 meters
DiscoveryBy Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801By Harvey H. Nininger in 1959
AtmosphereDo not haveBurn up when falling

What is Asteroid? 

Historically, the term asteroid has been applied to astronomical objects mainly orbiting the sun. It was failed to observe to have active comet’s characteristics like tail. Now, this time eventually generally refers to the inner solar system’s minor planets comparison that co-orbital with Jupiter.  

Planetoids can be described as large asteroids. There is the existence of millions of asteroids in which many are planetesimal’s shattered remnants bodies within a generally solar nebula of young sun that fails to grow large enough to result as a planet.  

The known asteroid’s vast majority orbit within the chief asteroid belt is generally located between Jupiter and Mars’s orbit or is co-orbital with Jupiter. However, the existence of other orbital families with significant populations comprises near-earth objects.  

Various asteroid’s dynamic groups have been discovered chiefly orbiting in the inner solar system. The orbits are perturbed by the other bodies’ gravity in the solar system and through the Yarkovsky effect. The asteroid belt, trojans, and near-earth asteroids are three of the significant populations. 

What is Meteorite? 

In outer space, a meteorite is a metallic or a small rocky object for the body. Objects smaller than meteorites can be categorized as space dust or micrometeoroids. Most of them are fragments from generally asteroids or comets, while others are debris of collision impact ejected from bodies like Mars.  

When a meteorite takes place into Earth’s atmosphere at a speed generally in 20 km/s’s excess then aerodynamic heating of that object results in light’s streak. As a result, both from the glowing object and glowing particles trail that it leaves in its wake.  

Each day an estimated 25 million micrometeoroids are meteorites and other space debris which mainly enters the earth’s atmosphere. This results in that material’s estimated 15,000 tons entering the atmosphere every year. Most of them have originated from the asteroid belt.  

Almost all meteorite comprises extraterrestrial iron and nickel. They have three chief categorizations namely, stony-iron, stone, and iron. Some stones comprise grain-like inclusions referred to as chondrules. Achondrites are stony meteorites lacking these features. 

Main Differences Between Asteroid and Meteorite 

  1. Asteroids are generally made of metals, rocks, and other elements. Astronomers say some might comprise water. On the contrary, meteorites usually comprise silicates and iron and nickel as metals.
  2. In terms of etymology, the word asteroid is derived from the Greek word namely, asteroeides which generally means starlike. Meanwhile, the word meteorite is a combination of two words namely, meteor and ite.  
  3. The instance of word asteroid usage in a sentence is that “an asteroid hitting earth might be an event of cataclysmic.” On the other hand, “the meteorite left an impact crater of approx 40 miles wide” is the instance of word meteorite usage in a sentence.  
  4. Some of the famous asteroid names comprise Icarus, Hathor, Ceres, Pallas, and Hermes. On the flip side, Orionids, hoba, perseids, geminids, and Leonids are some of the names of famous meteorites.  
  5. When it comes to orbit, asteroids typically have elliptical orbit in which distance from the sun fails to vary too much. In contrast, meteorites also have elliptical orbit but meteors get pulled into larger bodies such as planets due to their mass. 


It can be concluded that both asteroids and meteorites are commonly called celestial bodies which generally share a few common things like staying close to the planet. The size of asteroids in diameter is 1 to more than 100 kilometers. In contrast, less than 10 meters is the size of a meteorite. When it comes to location, the asteroid is located in space, while meteorites reach the surface of a planet.  

The discovery of an asteroid is done by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801. On the contrary, in 1959, Harvey H. Nininger discovered the meteorite. The origin of the asteroid is traced from leftovers from the planet. Meanwhile, the origin of the meteorite is traced from the small disintegrated element of an asteroid or comet. When it comes to the atmosphere, an asteroid fails to have any kind of atmosphere. Conversely, when falling into a planet the meteorite generally burns up.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1945-5100.1993.tb00755.x
  2. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002cem..book…..N/abstract
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