A comet is a relatively small solar system body that orbits the Sun. When close enough to the Sun they display a visible coma (a fuzzy outline or atmosphere due to solar radiation) and sometimes a tail.
Asteroids are small solar system bodies that orbit the Sun. Made of rock and metal, they can also contain organic compounds. Asteroids are similar to comets but do not have a visible coma (fuzzy outline and tail) like comets do.
A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids).
A meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere is known as a meteor. If you’ve ever looked up at the sky at night and seen a streak of light or ‘shooting star’ what you are actually seeing is a meteor.
A meteoroid that survives falling through the Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with the Earth’s surface is known as a meteorite.
Image: A river gorge cut into the tundra of northwestern Victoria Island shows steeply tilted sedimentary rock strata. These deformed beds represent the central uplift caused by rebound after the meteor impact that formed the Prince Albert crater. Credit: University of Saskatchewan, Brian Pratt
Side Note: We’re sending rovers to other planets to discover their secret and yet here we have Earth still providing some of its own. Love new discoveries like these!
Researchers in Canada’s western Arctic have found evidence of a crater that formed when a huge meteorite slammed into Earth millions of years ago.
Measuring about 15 miles (25 kilometers) across, the formation was named the Prince Albert impact crater after the peninsula where it was discovered. Researchers don’t know exactly when it was created, but evidence suggests the crater is between 130 million and 350 million years old, according to a statement from the University of Saskatchewan.
Meteors are fragments of asteroids or comets that enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds; most are small, some as tiny as a grain of sand, so they discintegrate in the air, and only rarely are they large enough to make it to Earth’s surface. When meteors slam into Earth, they are called meteorites.