Viral Thailand Fireball: What’s the Difference Between a Meteor, Meteorite and Meteoroid?

posted: 09/08/15
by: Danny Clemens

Mother Nature put on quite the show this weekend, sending a dazzling meteor burning though the sky over Thailand:

Captured on several cell phone and dashboard cameras, the exceptionally bright meteor made its appearance just before 9:00 a.m. local time on Sunday. According to CNN, the object burned up approximately 62 miles above the ground.

The term meteor is frequently confused with two related concepts, meteoroid and meteorite.

"A meteor is the flash of light that we see in the night sky when a small chunk of interplanetary debris burns up as it passes through our atmosphere," the official website of the Hubble Space Telescope explains.

Meteoroid refers to the actual traveling "interplanetary debris" that generates the meteor upon entering Earth's atmosphere, while meteorite refers to any portion of that debris that survives its journey through the atmosphere and lands on Earth's surface.

NASA estimates that 3,000 metric tons of space material falls to Earth each day, mostly in the form of dust.

Click here to learn more about Sunday's meteor in Thailand on Discovery News

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Asteroid and Meteorite

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