What does a meteorite look like?
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Topic: Earth Science
Keywords: Astrogeology, Astrophysics, Atmosphere, Meteorites, Meteors, Weathering
Meteorites on Earth look very different from the way they did drifting through space. During a meteorite's 10- to 15-second trip through the atmosphere, air friction heats its surface to a red-hot 1,800 degrees Celsius. This friction can melt the meteorite, and can carry away up to 90 percent of the original mass, leaving interesting surface features. Once a meteorite lands, weathering begins to change and destroy its surface.
Rocks floating through the vacuum of space are chilled to well below freezing.
Some meteorites, such as Stannern, have tiny bumpy lines—called flow lines—running down their sides, like wax drippings on a candle.
Meteorites with a well-formed nose cone shape, like Miller, are very rare.
The little fingerprintlike indentations seen on the surfaces of many meteorites, such as Glorieta Mountain, show how the rock melted as it passed through the atmosphere.
Some meteorites, such as Dalgety Downs, sit outside for thousands of years before they're discovered.
Many hunks of ordinary rock or metal look like meteorites.