When we were kids, we assumed that the shiny streak of light sometimes visible at night is actually a star falling off from the jewel embedded sky. Now we know that these are meteors. A meteor is an object that burns upon entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Any meteor that survives the fall and does not burn completely will strike the earth. These are called meteorites.
Have you ever wondered how they look like? A very few people in the world must have seen a meteorite striking the earth, so most of us are unaware of how it looks like.
I recently visited American Museum of National History, and there is a section dedicated to meteorites. The real meteorites that touched the surface of the earth are displayed.
Below is the biggest meteorite at display.
This is just a fragment of the original meteorite called Cape York. It was 200 tons of iron before it broke up into 7 fragments within the atmosphere. When meteorites enter the earth’s atmosphere, they are traveling at thousands of miles per hour and at such high speeds, friction causes the surface to heat up and melt until they eventually shatter.
Two other fragments of the Cape York are called ‘woman’ and the ‘dog.’ They were assigned such names because the people of Greenland believed that a sewing woman and her dog were cast from the sky by an evil spirit and ahnighito was her tent. All these three fragments were found close to each other.
There was no crater discovered for these. This was because they landed in Greenland when it was blanketed by a thick sheet of snow.
Below is a closer look of the surface of meteorite
The iron that falls from space is not similar to that we find on earth. There is a pattern embedded in it which is nowhere to be found on earth. This is called Widmanstatten structure. Below is the strange pattern that is found in most meteorites.