Topics: Solar System, Mars, Planet Pages: 2 (406 words) Published: April 28, 2013
The origin of the word meteorite came from the Greek word meteoreon which literally translates to “something high up” or “in the air”. It was used to describe a celestial phenomenon known as a meteor. In the late 19th century, astronomers derived the word meteorite to describe a meteor that hits earth. Meteorites hurl down our planet as streaks of light. Nowadays, people generally use the term “falling star” or “shooting star”. People who are lucky enough to witness a meteorite falling from the sky describe it as a ball of fire which fades from sight at a wink. If one is lucky enough to make a wish before the phenomenon vanishes, it is said that the wish will come true.

But what exactly is a meteorite? Meteorites are pieces of natural materials made out of iron or rocks that fall into the earth. Most come from the asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Some are fragments of other planets. These “rocks” are predominantly composed of iron or nickel. They are thought to be remnants of our old Solar System, which drift in space until they collide or drift in a large gravitational body such as our planet. They burn up when they enter our atmosphere due to friction.

Meteorites come in different sizes. Some can be as big as a car while others can be as tiny as a child’s fist. On a clear night, it is possible to witness several falling stars. Up to 25 million meteors containing roughly 100 million tons of cosmic material drop to our planet. Radiometric dating suggests that some meteorites contain samples of cosmic dust that are older than our Solar System. They provide a peek into the early history of our universe. They are considered valuable data tools for scientists wanting to know more about our universe. Before space programs became highly developed, meteorites are the only extraterrestrial tool we have to study here on Earth.

One documented case of a meteorite hitting a person happened years ago in the USA. Apparently, a woman...
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