Thursday, October 27, 2011

Space Rock Mania, by Sharon Powell

Have you ever wondered if rocks really come from outer space? As a matter of fact, they do come from our solar system, and land on earth at high rates of speed more often than you may think. The proper term for rocks which come from our solar system is referred to as METEORITES. There are approximately 25 tons of dust which rains down on earth every day, and tiny pieces of Meteorite are contained within those dust particles. Large meteorites can travel at speeds of 25,000 mph when it hits earth.

According to Caroline Bingham, Eye Wonder, Rocks & Minerals:  Meteorites are pieces of rock or metal that hit earth. Some Meteorites break off into asteroids and large chunks of rock that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. A renowned astronomer, known as “Galileo” was very interested in planet Jupiter, and quite often witnessed “Comets and Meteorites” orbiting the planet by using a high powered telescope.

Some of you may ask, “What does an Asteroid look like, and what is inside?” From earth, Asteroids look like tiny stars, or starfish. Once an “asteroid” hits the earth’s surface, it is examined to find out the level of metal contained within it. Scientists discovered that “asteroids” contain metals such as iron, in addition to rock material.

Comets can be seen from the earth, and are clearly visible at night. Comets are similar to a large fuzzy ball in the sky with a tail attached, and are visible when orbiting close to the sun. Although comets are natural wonders of the world, they contain dangerous gases, ice and dust particles. A comets tail can stretch as far as one hundred miles.  

Howard Schneider, National Geographic, Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, National Geographic Publishers, Washington, D.C., 2009.
Caroline Bingham, Eye Wonder, Rocks and Minerals, D.K. Publishing, New York, NY, 1962.

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