Breakdown: Why meteors aren’t typically dangerous for Earth

Updated: Jan. 31, 2021 at 5:18 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Meteors frequently make their way through Earth’s atmosphere, but they rarely cause any issues or harm for humans.

A meteor is defined as a space rock that travels through Earth’s atmosphere. As it barrels towards Earth’s surface, it becomes extremely hot due to the friction with the air. When you see a “shooting star” it’s actually the hot air being illuminated as the meteor burns through our sky. In fact, most meteors completely burn before making it to Earth’s surface.

If it does make it’s way to the Earth’s surface, the rock is called a meteorite. According to NASA, less than 5% of the rock will remain by the time it travels to the ground. These can range from pebble to fist size.

Most meteors come from asteroids, which are large space rocks that orbit the sun. More than 50,000 meteorites have been found on Earth. However, there are very few reports of these meteorites causing any injuries.

In Earth’s early years, there were many large meteor impacts that caused significant damage, so it is possible that another one could occur in the future. The most famous being the large asteroid 65 million years ago that eliminated the dinosaurs and created the 180 mile wide crater on the Yucatan Peninsula.

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