Rocky Meteors and Orbiting Asteroids
Primarily known as shooting stars, meteors are smaller rock pieces and debris that have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. They will strike the atmosphere at higher speeds, where friction will force them to burn. Most of the meteors are the size of a pea or even smaller than that, and will burn up completely before hitting the Earth’s surface. Occasionally, some of the more giant meteors will strike the surface and their remains will be called meteorites. NASA scientists have estimated that around 1000 to 10,000 tons of meteoritic materials get to enter the Earth’s atmosphere daily.
Sometimes referred to as minor planets, asteroids are larger rocky masses without atmospheres that move around the sun but are too small to be noted as planets. There are millions of such rocky masses in the central asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Left after forming the solar system, these asteroids are created by combining various combinations of nickel, rock, clay, and iron. They might range in size from less than half a mile to around 600 miles in diameter. Over 150 of them have small moons. The gravity of Jupiter and occasionally from Mars, as well as interaction with other objects, can easily knock these asteroids out of the asteroid belt and place them in the path of the Earth.