A meteorite is a chunk of rock and debris that has survived its descent to the surface of a planet. They are descendants of meteoroids. The meteoroids become meteors once they enter the atmosphere of a planet and cause a streak of light in the sky. The chunks of debris from the meteor that make it the surface without being vaporized are then called meteorites. The size of a meteorite can vary from a small pebble to a large boulder.
Classification of meteorites can be difficult because of their many origins. However, they are generally classified into iron, stony iron, and stony. The most common type is chondrite, which is a type of stony meteorite. These are made of minerals that, for the most part, are similar to those found on Earth. By scientists’ estimations, 48.5 tons of meteoric material descends to the Earth each day. On occasion, intense increases in meteor activity occur. These increases are known as meteor showers.
Meteorites are catalogued by the location in which they are found. The most notable and largest meteorite found is the Hoba meteorite. It remains to this day where it was found in 1920 – the Hoba farm in Namibia. Although this meteorite weighed more than 60 tons, it is remarkable because it made no crater. The largest meteorite found in the United States is the Willamette meteorite, weighing in at 16 tons, and was found in Oregon. The American Museum of Natural History in New York is now the home for this meteorite.