Difference Between Meteor and Meteorite (With Table)

The universe is a vast expanding body that hasn’t been fully discovered. There are many planets, stars, 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, satellites of the planets present. The best origin theory accepted by the scientist is the Bing Bang Theory. 

Meteor vs Meteorite

The difference between Meteor and Meteorite is that the bodies that, when entering into the atmosphere of the surface of the earth, burn with a beam of light which is when seen with naked eyes are known to be shooting stars or meteors. Whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the meteorite is stated to be the one that survives the trip from the universe to the earth’s atmosphere and lands on the ground.

Meteor is a heavenly body that tends to revolve in the universe. It is assumed that they are originated from the asteroid belt present in between the planet Mars and Jupiter. They are often made up of burning rocks. The velocity of the meteor is very high that makes it appear with a beam of light, making them looking like ‘’shooting stars’’.

The meteorite is the 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 and then enters the earth’s surface and is then hit by the ground. After hitting the ground sometimes, they create ‘craters’ that depend on the size of the meteorite.

Comparison Table Between Meteor and Meteorite

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 quintal that is 100 kg
Types Three types – earth grazer, bolides, fireballsThree types – stony, iron, stony-iron
OriginHeavenly body deviated from the asteroid belt so often referred to as an element of the solar systemOuter 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 the rock that revolves in the solar system and crosses the layers of the Earth, and gets burned up. As the rock has a very high velocity while entering the earth’s surface resulting in friction that makes it heated and glowing, many a time visible through naked eyes.

Because of this phenomenon, the rock is known as the ‘shooting star.’ The interesting fact about the meteors is that they originate mainly from the asteroid belt present between the planets Mars and Jupiter. The friction of the planet Jupiter is so high that it deviates the path of the rock. Even sometimes, these meteors are a part of comets or 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 different types of meteors, and they are classified as – Earth grazers meteors, Bolide meteors, and Fireball meteor. The composition of these meteors is the burning rocks. Also, meteoritics is the term related to the meteors study.

What is Meteorite?

A meteorite is a heavenly body that strikes the ground on the earth’s surface. In simpler terms, the meteorite can be defined as the rock that survives the trip from outer space and enters the layers of earth, and reaches the ground. Apparently, it is a 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 depression on it, which is known as the impact craters or meteorite craters. The two great examples for the same is – In Mexico, there is an assumed crater formed because of the hitting of a meteorite is named Chicxulub crater. The same crater is assumed the reason behind the extinction of dinosaurs by scientists. Another crater is in South Africa named – 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 few grams to a quintal or 100 kg concluded by the scientists. These meteorites are classified into three different types that are – iron meteorites, stony meteorites, and stony-iron meteorites.

Main Differences Between Meteor and Meteorite

  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 few millimeters to centimeters, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the average size of a meteorite measured by the scientists lies in the range of few grams to 100 kilograms.
  3. A meteor is of three different types, and that is – earth grazers meteor, fireball meteor, and bolide meteor, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, a meteorite is of three different types and they are – stony meteorite, iron meteorite, and stony-iron meteorite.
  4. A meteor is originated from the asteroid belt present between the planets Mars and Jupiter or the comets, asteroid 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. 

Conclusion

In short, the terms – meteor, meteorite, meteoroid, asteroid, comets appear to be very similar to each other. But in reality, all the terms have different meanings, composition, appearance, and origination. Meteors revolving in the universe is called as asteroid while if they cross different layers of earth, they are known as meteors.

Due to their exceptionally high velocity, they burn up because of the heat produced and are seen as ‘shooting stars’ with naked eyes. The meteorite has a large mass that gets destroyed sometimes in the atmosphere and produces immense sonic waves that can be felt on the surface. And if they survive, they form depression called craters on the ground.   

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
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