Daniel Macdonald

Placeholder copy for the actual section. They’re all related to the flashes of light called “shooting stars” sometimes seen streaking across the sky. But we call the same object by different names, depending on where it is.

A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body in outer space. Meteoroids are defined as objects significantly smaller than asteroids, ranging in size from grains to objects up to a meter wide. Objects smaller than this are classified as micrometeoroids or space dust.

Scientists examining meteorite on snow-covered ground.

Scientists collecting a meteorite from the Miller Range in Antarctica.
Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as “space rocks.”

When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors.

When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.