How Meteorites Fall on Earth
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How Meteorites Fall on Earth

When a meteorite falls, it's always unexpected and sudden. The truth is, a meteorite can fall in any place and in any time. This natural calamity is always accompanied by powerful sound and light effects. During several minutes a blindingly bright bolide of a huge size rashes across the cloudless sky.

If the fall takes place during daytime on a clear sunny day, then it may stay invisible to a human eye. However, a cloudy trace shows in the sky after its flight. It looks like smoke and a dark cloud remains for while in the place where the bolide vanished.

Fall Phenomena

A meteoroid, intruding the Earth's atmosphere at the speed of 15 to 20 kilometers per second, encounters a very strong air resistance already at the distance of 100 - 120 kilometers above its surface. The air shrinks and heats instantly under and around it. Thus the so-called "air pillow" is formed. The surface of the meteoroid itself is overheated, up to several thousands of degrees. It is then that the bolide gets noticed in the sky.

The substance on the surface of the bolide as it flies at a dramatically high speed melts at a high temperature, boils and evaporates splashing around in tiny particles. Th meteoroid is being reduced unceasingly, it appears to melt.

Evaporating particles leave a trace that can be seen in the sky after the flight of this celestial body. But here comes the moment when the bolide enters a lower and thicker layer of the atmosphere where the air makes its speed slower and slower. Finally, the meteoroid loses its cosmic speed at the distance of 10 to 20 kilometers from Earth surface. It somewhat gets stuck in the air. This is a delay zone where the meteoroid stops heating and shining. The remaining part of it falls due to gravitation of Earth like a usual rock.

Meteorite falls happen frequently. It is possible that in different places of our planet several meteorites fall every day. However many of them stay unfound as they fall into seas, oceans, deserts, uninhabited areas. Only a tiny amount of them, about 4 or 5 a year get to be noticed and found. By the present moment about 1600 meteorites have been found on the planet.

Meteor Rain

Flying through Earth's atmosphere at a gigantic speed, meteorites do not resist the air pressure as a rule and fall into smaller fragments. The Earth is then hit by hundreds and thousands of splinters that produce a meteor rain. 

Meteorite Temperature

You may think that when a meteorite hits the Earth, its temperature is burning high. But this is wrong. It can be warm or hot on the outside during the short period when it stays in the atmosphere. But it lands as ice cold inside as it was in the outer space. There is not enough time for it to warm up. That is why a falling meteorite cannot provoke a fire when it lands even if it hits flammable objects. 

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