NASA explains difference between asteroids, comets and meteorites

NASA has taken to its website to explain the difference between space rocks such as asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteorites.

1 minute & 28 seconds read time

NASA has taken to its official social media to explain the difference between asteroids, comets, and meteorites as they are different.

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Posted to NASA's Science Solar System Exploration on July 21, 2022, the space agency outlined the definition of different space rocks. Asteroids are different from comets as they are ancient pieces of the early formation of the solar system, mostly consisting of rock and coming in various sizes ranging from approximately the size of a car to as wide as a city.

While mostly consisting of rock, asteroids can contain metals that make them shine or carbon that makes them appear a coal-black color. Additionally, asteroids can also be "rubble piles", which are almost like sand held together by gravity. Comets are the cold version of asteroids as they mostly consist of ice. At the center of every comet is an icy nucleus, and when the orbit of the comet gets close to the Sun, its icy body heats up, producing large amounts of gases that cause a coma or tail to form around its nucleus.

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The solar wind from the Sun blasts the comet causing the iconic tail that is seen in every active comet. Notably, a comet's tail will always point in the opposite direction from the Sun and can sometimes stretch millions of miles depending on the size of the comet. NASA writes it has confirmed the existence of 3,535, but there are likely billions within the solar system.

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A meteorite is a fragment of an asteroid, comet, moon, or planet that manages to survive the super-heated journey through Earth's dense atmosphere and make it to the surface. Upon entering Earth's atmosphere, meteorites are usually large, but after traveling through Earth's atmospheric layers, they are heated up, with most of its exterior disintegrating away under the extreme heat. Most meteorites that reach Earth's surface are between the size of a pebble and a fist.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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