Meteor vs Meteorite: Difference and Comparison

The universe is a vast expanding body that hasn’t been fully discovered. There are many planets, stars, and galaxies that are present in the universe still undiscovered.

These aren’t the only things that are present in the universe. There are many other bodies like – comets, asteroids, meteors, meteorites, and satellites of the planets present.

The best origin theory accepted by scientists is the Bing Bang Theory. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Meteor is a space rock that burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere, while a meteorite is a space rock that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and strikes its surface.
  2. Meteor is also known as a shooting star, while a meteorite is a solid piece of debris from space.
  3. Meteorites are valuable to scientists because they provide information about the formation and evolution of the solar system.

Meteor vs Meteorite

Meteor is actually a rock which revolves in the solar system and crosses the earth with high velocity and due to the friction it burns up. Its size is in mm or in cm. Meteorite is a rock which  enters the earth’s layer and hits the ground. The size of a meteorite is in grams to 100 kilograms. It has three types.

Meteor vs Meteorite
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Meteor is a heavenly body that tends to revolve in the universe. It is assumed that they originated from the asteroid belt present in between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

They are made up of burning rocks. The velocity of the meteor is very high, which makes it appear with a beam of light, making them look like ‘’shooting stars’’.

A meteorite is a heavenly body that tends to revolve around or in outer space. In simpler terms, the word is defined as the body that survives the path from outer space, enters the earth’s surface, and is hit by the ground.

After hitting the ground, sometimes, they create ‘craters’ that depend on the size of the meteorite.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMeteorMeteorite
What is it?A heavenly body that enters the Earth and burns in the sky without any consequencesA heavenly body that enters the Earth and survives and hits the ground
Size In mm or in cmIn grams to quintals, that is 100 kg
Types Three types – earth grazers, bolides, fireballsThree types – stony, iron, and stony-iron
OriginHeavenly body deviated from the asteroid belt, so referred to as an element of the solar system.Outer space
Composition Burning rocksNickel, magnetic elements, and some combination of metals

What is Meteor?

Meteor is a heavenly body that revolves around the sun in interplanetary space or the solar system. In simpler terms, a meteor can be defined as a rock that revolves in the solar system, crosses the Earth’s layers, and gets burned up.

The rock has a very high velocity while entering the earth’s surface, resulting in friction that makes it heated and glowing, visible through the naked eye. Because of this phenomenon, the rock is known as the ‘shooting star.’

The meteors are interesting because they originate mainly from the asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. The friction of the planet Jupiter is so high that it deviates from the path of the rock.

These meteors are sometimes a part of comets, asteroids, or the moon when they strike some surface. The size of the meteors is very small.

It mainly measures in a few mm or in cm. There are three types of meteors, classified as Earth grazers meteors, Bolide meteors, and Fireball meteors.

The composition of these meteors is the burning rocks. Also, meteoritics is the term related to the meteor study.

meteor

What is Meteorite?

A meteorite is a heavenly body that strikes the ground on the earth’s surface. In simpler terms, a meteorite can be defined as a rock that survives the trip from outer space, enters the earth’s layers, and reaches the ground.

Apparently, it is part of a meteoroid that burns incompletely and makes it to the ground. These stones have magnetic properties because they are rich in a combination of some elements that show magnetic properties and nickel.

After striking the surface of the earth, they form a depression on it, which is known as an impact crater or meteorite crater. The two great examples of the same are – In Mexico, an assumed crater is formed because of the hitting of a meteorite named Chicxulub crater.

The same crater is assumed to be the reason behind the extinction of dinosaurs by scientists. Another crater is in South Africa named – the Vredefort crater, the biggest crater expanded in an area of 185 miles.

These depressions are formed because of the huge masses of the stone. The approximate size of the meteorite may vary from a few grams to a quintal, or 100 kg concluded, by the scientists.

These meteorites are classified into three types: iron meteorites, stony meteorites, and stony-iron meteorites.

meteorite

Main Differences Between Meteors and Meteorites

  1. In simple terms, a meteor can be stated as a heavenly body that enters the Earth and burns in the sky without any consequences, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, in simple terms, a meteorite can be defined as a heavenly body that enters the Earth and survives and hits the ground.
  2. The average size of a meteor measured by the scientist lies in between the range of a few millimetres to centimetres, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the average size of a meteorite measured by scientists lies in the range of a few grams to 100 kilograms.
  3. A meteor is of three different types, and that is – earth grazers meteor, fireball meteor, and bolide meteor comparatively, on the other hand, a meteorite is of three different types, and they are – stony meteorite, iron meteorite, stony-iron meteorite.
  4. A meteor is originated from the asteroid belt present between the planets Mars and Jupiter or the comets, asteroids or Moon when they strike their surface, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, a meteorite is originated from outer space. 
  5. The composition of a meteor is the burning rocks, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the composition of the meteorite is the magnetic elements, a combination of elements, and nickel. 
Difference Between Meteor and Meteorite
References
  1. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/JB088iS01p0B237
  2. https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/aapgbull/article-abstract/37/11/2580/550131/Structural-Dissimilarity-of-Meteor-Crater-and
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0019103581901123
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ggr.12220

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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