(ORDO NEWS) — We regularly see “shooting stars” – meteorites burning up in the atmosphere. But how many such objects fall on the planet and reach its surface?
Meteorites fall to Earth every day, but how many of these celestial bodies bombard our planet every year?
Each year, millions of debris from space burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, many of which flare briefly and appear in the sky as “shooting stars”. But how many of them reach the ground?
How many meteorites fall on our planet?
Meteorites of various sizes fall on our satellite: from 10 to 1000 tons – the mass of about 5.5 cars – per day and about 33,000 collisions of space rocks the size of ping-pong balls per year.
Space rocks that usually turn into meteorites are known as meteoroids – small asteroids or the smallest celestial bodies in the solar system.
According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), they range in size from boulders about 1 meter to micrometeoroids the size of a grain of dust.
Meteoroids are usually fragments of asteroids or comets. However, some of them may be debris from planets or moons.
For example, according to the Meteor Society, more than 300 meteorites are known to have originated as fragments of Mars.
When meteorites break through the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up from friction with the air and create streaks of light across the sky: these flaming falling rocks are called meteors.
Thousands of fireballs erupt in the Earth’s skies every day, but most of them occur over oceans and uninhabited regions, and many of them are not visible due to daylight, AMS notes.
Most meteorites found on Earth come from meteor showers associated with dust ejected by comets.
However, meteor showers do not produce meteorites because the meteoroids in such showers are usually too fragile to survive falling to the ground.
It is impossible to know exactly how many meteorites fall into the ocean and sink to the bottom undetected. However, 29% of the Earth’s surface is covered by land.
Urban areas, containing about 55% of the people, cover about 0.44% of the land mass. The total number of meteorite impacts on Earth was roughly equal to the number of meteorites recorded in urban areas divided by the percentage of Earth’s land area covered by cities.
Overall, it is estimated that around 6,100 meteorite impacts per year are likely to occur across the Earth, and about 1,800 of them occur on land.
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