What Happens to Meteors After They Hit the Ground?
Dear Digger Doug,
My science book says that meteors hit the Earth and left craters. It has a picture of a crater in the Arizona desert. What happens to meteors after they hit the ground?
—Kayla, Wasilla, AK
I appreciate the fine question, and I always enjoy hearing from Discovery readers. Over time many objects have collided with the Earth and Moon. Each day as many as four billion meteoroids enter our atmosphere. Because God has shielded us with a protective atmosphere, most meteors burn up before they ever reach the ground. When this happens, we may enjoy seeing a special light show in the sky! Smaller meteorites do not have noticeable effects.
Many meteorites actually explode when they hit the ground, leaving a crater. A special kind of rock, breccia, is left over from meteor collisions. Because the moon has no atmosphere and is not geologically active, we can still see many of the Moon’s craters. On Earth, however, the atmosphere, water, and geological shifts have hidden most craters.