Cheni, Feb 9: Even as scientists are studying whether the object that fell from the sky into an engineering college compound in Vellore killing a person is a meteorite, a former senior official of an Indian space agency said tracking meteorites is very difficult because of their small size. A meteorite is a portion of an asteroid or a comet that survives the Earth’s atmospheric heat and impacts the earth’s surface. The portion or debris of an asteroid or comet before it hits the Earth’s surface is called a meteoroid.
“Once a meteoroid escapes the Earth’s atmosphere then it falls towards the Earth at a speed of 2-4 km per second. Normally meteoroids turn into ashes when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere due to friction,” M.Y.S. Prasad, former director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told IANS. But if the meteoroid is large and travels down slowly, then some portion of that can survive the atmospheric heat. “No country in the world now has the capability to track meteoroid the escapes the atmosphere,” he added.
According to the US’s tiol Aeroutical and Space Administration (SA) website: “Asteroids are typically composed of rock-forming minerals, most commonly olivine and pyroxene. (IANS)