NOV 08, 2017 02:56 PM PST
The Differences Between Common Space Rocks
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You probably hear the term 'space rock' getting thrown around a lot, but there are several kinds of space rocks, and it's important to know the distinctions between them. Some of the most prevalent types of space rocks are asteroids, comets, and meteors.

Asteroids are fundamentally solid hunks of rock and metal. Many reside in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, where they orbit the Sun just like planets do, but they can move out of position occasionally from forces that are out of our control.

Comets are icy rocks that ordinarily reside in the further reaches of the solar system. From time to time, these cold space rocks come too close to the Sun, and they begin exhibiting a tail when the Sun warms up the surface ice. Without its ice, a comet would be classified as an asteroid.

Smaller rocks, which occur from asteroid and comet collisions, are known as meteoroids. These are the space rocks that most commonly fly into Earth's atmosphere, and many of them burn up before ever reaching the surface; those that make it through our atmosphere become known as meteorites.

While astronomers have already found some of the solar system's most massive space rocks, they're always looking for new ones. Most of the uncharted space rocks out there are negligible, and charting them would be seemingly useless.

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