Meteorites, Meteors and Asteroids. What Is The Difference?

Meteorites, meteors, and asteroids are related celestial objects. The main difference lies in their location and stage of existence: asteroids are objects orbiting the Sun in space, meteoroids are small celestial bodies traveling through space, meteors are the visible streaks of light produced when meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere, and meteorites are fragments of meteoroids that survive the journey and land on Earth's surface. All of these terms are interconnected and represent different stages in the life cycle of celestial objects within our solar system.

Here's a breakdown of their differences:


  • Definition: A meteorite is a fragment of a meteoroid that survives its journey through Earth's atmosphere and reaches the surface of the planet. These fragments can vary in size from small pebbles to large boulders.

  • Composition: Meteorites are composed of rock, metal, or a combination of both, depending on the nature of the original meteoroid.

  • Location: Meteorites are found on Earth's surface after landing, having originated as meteoroids from various sources within our solar system.

  • Meteor:

  • Definition: A meteor is the streak of light produced when a meteoroid enters Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes due to the intense heat generated by friction with the air. This is commonly referred to as a "shooting star" or "falling star."

  • Composition: A meteor is not a physical object but rather a visible atmospheric phenomenon caused by the meteoroid's rapid entry and disintegration.

  • Location: Meteors occur within Earth's atmosphere.

  • Meteoroid:

  • Definition: A meteoroid is a small celestial body, typically smaller than an asteroid, that travels through space. Meteoroids can vary in size from tiny grains to a few meters in diameter.

  • Composition: Meteoroids can be composed of rock, metal, or a combination of both.

  • Location: Meteoroids can be found within our solar system and can originate from asteroids, comets, or even be fragments from larger celestial bodies.

  • Asteroid:

  • Definition: Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun and are primarily found in the asteroid belt, a region located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They vary in size from a few meters to hundreds of kilometers across.

  • Composition: Asteroids are composed mostly of rock and metal, similar to the composition of terrestrial planets like Earth.

  • Location: Asteroids are found within our solar system, orbiting the Sun.