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What is an Asteroid?

one large and several smaller asteroids in space

Asteroid and Meteorite What's the Difference?

An asteroid which can be as small as a pebble or as large as 1000km in diameter is a rocky metallic object that orbits the sun.

They're believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system.  Some believe asteroids are the remains of a planet that was destroyed in a massive collision many millions of years ago.

When an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth it's called a meteoroid.  Should an asteroid enter Earth's atmosphere friction causes it to incinerate into a streak of light.  The subsequent "fireball" better known as a "shooting star" is called a meteor.

If the meteoroid does not burn up completely whatever is left crashes into the surface of Earth.  That object is a meteorite.

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