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Pieces of the Sky

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Earth is bombarded by a constant rain of debris from space. Most of it is fine dust that drifts down to the surface. Other pieces can be as small as a grain of sand or larger than a house. We see flashes of light when pieces of comets, asteroids, and other planets fall through our atmosphere.

After these bits of the sky land on Earth, they are collected as meteorites. We study space rocks to learn more about the formation of our solar system and the evolution of our planets.

Meteors and Comets

269-pound (122-kg) Iron Meteorite
This fragment came from more than 30 tons (27,000 kg) of meteorites found at the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona. It is 92-percent iron and 7-percent nickel.
Loaned by the Geology Department of Pomona College

Pieces of comets and asteroids fall from space and cause the flashes of light in the sky that we see as meteors.

Meteorite Origins

Meteorites have their origins in the larger bodies of the solar system. They come from asteroids and from the surface of the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies.

Meteorite Histories

Asteroids are made of some of the oldest materials in the solar system. They formed in the earliest years of our solar system, and many have remained unchanged since then.

Meteorite Impacts

Comets and asteroid fragments have hit all of the solar system’s planets and moons. We find impact craters everywhere.

California Meteorites

California has many rich meteorite grounds. The most successful hunters use very thorough search techniques.395-pound (179-kg) Iron Meteorite
This is a fragment of a huge object that crashed into the Arizona desert and created the Barringer Meteor Crater about 50,000 years ago. The crater is 4,200 feet (1,280 m) in diameter.