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The Question

(Submitted April 09, 1997)

What are meteorites? Any neat facts about meteorites? I am in 3rd grade. I am looking for information about meteorites. Can you tell me a great site or lesson my teacher can use in my class?

The Answer

Rocks in space are called meteoroids, and there are many of these in our solar system -- especially between the planets Mars and Jupiter where there are thousands of big rocks (Asteroids). In addition as comets come near the Sun, (as Hale-Bopp is doing now) chunks of ice and rocks come are blown off by the sun.

These rocks usually they burn up on impact. We see this on Earth as a "shooting star" -- also called a meteor. Sometimes the Earth passes through a bunch of these rocks (perhaps from a long-gone comet), so we see many shooting stars. This is referred to as a meteor shower.

When a large rock hits the earth, it sometime does not completely burn up as it enters the atmosphere. These meteors eventually hit the ground, where they can be found by people on Earth. This is a meteorite.

I searched the World Wide Web for information on meteorites, and I found a nice home page. It is:

Meteors, Meteorites and Impacts

Thank you very much for your interest.


Jonathan Keohane
-- for Imagine the Universe!

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