On February 15, 2013, a meteor fell over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia. The meteor damaged over 3,000 buildings. Over 1,000 people were injured. The event was captured in a video.
Photo: meteor entering atmosphere as seen from space. (Creative Commons: NASA).
A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic object in space. These objects travel around the sun in a variety of orbits. A typical meteoroid is only a few centimeters in length. Larger meteoroids may be up to a meter in length. Most of these objects are made up of nickel and iron.
Most meteoroids come from the asteroid belt in the solar system. The gravitational pull from planets may disturb their orbit around the sun. Other meteoroids are particles from comets. They may also be debris created by some type of impact on a planet or a moon.
Meteors and Meteorites
As a meteoroid enters the earth’s atmosphere, it begins to heat up. Friction between the meteoroid and the atmosphere is the source of the heat. At this point, the meteoroid is known as a meteor.
Meteors are also known as falling or shooting stars. The meteor becomes so hot that it begins to glow. Most meteors glow for a few seconds before they burn up in the atmosphere. The brightest meteors are known as fireballs.
If the meteor does not burn up completely it will strike the earth. At this point, the meteor becomes a meteorite. It is thought that millions of meteors enter the atmosphere each day.
The Chelyabinsk Meteor
In 2013, a large 20 meter-wide meteoroid entered the atmosphere over Russia. It is thought to have weighed over 11,000 tons. The meteoroid became a large fireball that exploded about 25 kilometers over Chelyabinsk, Russia.
The blast shattered many windows in the city. About 3,000 buildings were damaged. Over 1,500 people suffered injuries from the blast.
Video: fireball burning up over Chelyabinsk, Russia (source: YouTube).
The following is a recommended list of words and their definitions for students.
Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills
Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. Try to answer the following questions to improve your reading comprehension.