We have all heard various of different names for materials such as rock from outer space. However, do you know what makes them different from one another?
The European Space Agency and the Royal Greenwich Observatory created a very informative animation which explains in detail the difference between space rocks such as asteroids, meteors, meteoroids and comets. As it turns out, they were all originally asteroids in the asteroid belt. Where they go changes what becomes of them.
“Between Mars and Jupiter, we find an asteroid belt due to the strong gravitational influence of Jupiter. These chunks of rock and metal failed to coalesce into a planet and instead formed a sort of solar junkyard. . . . Sometimes they bump into each other and get thrown off track and even completely off-belt on an entirely different journey through the solar system. There are many names associated with space rocks. So what's the difference?
Asteroids are the largest free-floating rocks, while meteoroids are the smallest. Once meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere, they become meteors. Comets are icy rocks that break away from gas giants like Jupiter and collide with debris on their way to the Sun. Firecrackers are brilliant trails of debris that follow a comet.