CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Meteorite. Illustration of a meteorite hitting the ground in a remote area. Meteorites are fragments of interplanetary debris that fall to the Earth's surface. They are much smaller than asteroids or comets but larger than meteors, which burn up in the atmosphere. About 500 meteorites hit the Earth each year, most of which fall unseen in oceans, deserts or other uninhabited areas. They consist of a type of rock unlike anything found in Earth's crust, and are usually rich in iron and coated with a glassy, black crust produced by heat on entry into the atmosphere.
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