Meteorites Essay, Research Paper

Imagine that while you?re on a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll with your

family, a large dark gray ball comes out of nowhere, just missing the head of

your small child, shakes the earth, and produces a large crater in the ground a

few feet ahead of you. This ball wasn?t from the young boys playing baseball

across the street, and it wasn?t an acorn from the tree overhead. This ashen

ball was a meteorite falling from the sky. A meteorite is a particle from space,

large enough to enter the earth?s atmosphere, and potentially cause damage to

the surface of the earth, a house, or a car. Although almost getting struck by a

meteorite while outside on a walk is a very rare occurrence, a collision with a

meteorite can be fatal. Scientists have never encountered a fatality due to a

meteorite, but several deformations in the surface of the earth have been linked

to meteorite collisions. A meteorite comes from an asteroid or is a chip off of

a moon or other planet. Many times a planet or other solar object is heated

beyond capacity and, consequently, explodes thrusting many fragments into the

universe. Some of these fragments are large enough to successfully enter the

earth?s atmosphere and hit the surface at amazing speeds. Most meteorites are

blasted apart by fire while entering the earth?s atmosphere. Meteorites are

often dark gray or black because of their fiery descent. They are very rough on

the outside. They are often identified by scientists by their composition. A

meteorite has a very rare element, iridium, present in its makeup. This makes

meteorites easy to decipher from surface rocks because all of the earth?s

iridium sank to the core many years ago. Many meteorites are filled with metals

that give them a rich magnetic power. Meteorites also contain carbons. Meteorite

collision has been responsible for many craters in the surface of the earth, and

it continues to shape the land. As for meteorite impact becoming a threat to

civilization, it is highly unlikely. The Torino Scale is a device used to

measure the predicted threat of a meteorite colliding with the earth. Very few

meteorite impacts large enough to threaten civilization are rated over zero on

the Torino Scale. This means that it is unlikely that a very large meteorite

will strike the earth hard enough to cause such damage. It is improbable that a

meteorite will do much damage, and any large meteorite able to cause such damage

will probably not enter the earth?s atmosphere in tact. The Torino Scale rates

potential collisions from zero to ten. A ?zero? rating is given to those

objects that have the least likelihood of entering the earth?s atmosphere and

doing any damage. A ?ten? rating is given to those objects that will

certainly collide with the earth and have the ability to cause devastating

damages. Most objects rated one or higher usually change paths, and the rating

is changed in time. Although it is unlikely, the next time you?re out for a

Sunday afternoon stroll and are almost nailed by a flying ball, pick it up.

Check it out. You may have discovered a meteorite; a rock from the world beyond

that was, for a long time, a complete mystery to us.

1. Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, Voit. The Cosmic Perspective. Addison-Wesley

Longman, Inc. 1999. 2. 3. 4.!


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