Asteroids and meteoroids are both small, rocky objects that orbit the sun. However, there is a big difference between these two objects: asteroids are made up of metal and rock, while meteoroids are made up of ice and dust. When an asteroid or meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a meteor. If the object survives the trip through the atmosphere and lands on the ground, it becomes an asteroid. So next time you’re outside watching for shooting stars, be sure to know the difference between asteroids and meteoroids!
What is Asteroid?
Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although they are often called “minor planets,” asteroids are not planets at all. They range in size from Ceres, which is about 950 kilometers (590 miles) across, to tiny particles of dust. Most asteroids orbit in a region between Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt. Asteroids are thought to be leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Ceres, the largest asteroid, may even be a dwarf planet. Scientists believe that asteroids resembling Vesta and Psyche may be the cores of long-destroyed planets. And some astronomers think that Earth’s moon was once an asteroid that was captured by our planet’s gravity. Today, asteroids occasionally collide with Earth. These collisions can cause damage on a local scale, but so far no known asteroid has been large enough to cause global destruction.
What is Meteor?
Meteor is a slight dusting to the coating of ice crystals on the ground or other surfaces that falls from clouds like snow. Unlike snow, ice particles in Meteor are very small and are tough to measure without expensive tools. The official Meteor definition used by the U.S. National Weather Service is “a visible discharge of material (other than rain or hail) from a cloud that falls to the ground.”
Difference between Asteroid and Meteor
An asteroid is a small, rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most asteroids are found in the asteroid belt, a region of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Meteoroids are much smaller than asteroids and are often made of ice or dust. They can be found orbiting the Sun or orbiting other planets and moons. When a meteoroid collides with the atmosphere of a planet or moon, it vaporizes and becomes a meteor. A meteor is often called a shooting star or falling star. If a meteoroid is large enough to reach the surface of a planet or moon, it is called a meteorite.
While an asteroid is a large, rocky body that orbits the sun, a meteor is a small particle of dust or ice that burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. The terms are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to know the difference when talking about potential threats to our planet. So far, there have been no confirmed cases of an asteroid hitting Earth, but smaller meteors can cause significant damage. It’s important for us to be aware of both types of objects and what we can do to protect ourselves from them.