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What is the difference between comets, asteroids and meteors? How Nasa defines the space rocks

ASTEROIDS, comets and meteors are all made of rocky material and they all shoot through space.

You may be wondering why the three space rocks all have different names, but Nasa has explained the main reasons why.

Comets, asteroids, and meteors are all slightly different space rocks

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Comets, asteroids, and meteors are all slightly different space rocksPhoto credit: Getty

What is the difference between comets, asteroids and meteors?

The main difference between asteroids, comets and metors is their size and their nature.

NASA says: “An asteroid is a small rocky object orbiting the sun.

“A meteor is what happens when a small piece of an asteroid or comet, called a meteoroid, burns up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.”

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Nasa adds: “Asteroids are smaller than a planet, but they are larger than the pebble-sized objects we call meteoroids.

“Most of the asteroids in our solar system can be found in the main asteroid belta region between Mars and Jupiter.”

As for comets, the US space agency has a frostier explanation.

NASA says: “Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gas, rock and dust about the size of a small city.

“As a comet’s orbit brings it close to the Sun, it heats up and spews dust and gases into a huge glowing head larger than most planets.

“The dust and gases form a tail stretching millions of kilometers from the Sun.”

Meteor showers can form when Earth’s orbit takes them through a comet’s tail.

The Quadrantid meteor shower is an example of this.

The sky display occurs as Earth passes the trail of an asteroid or possible rock comet called 2003 EH1.

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Small pieces of debris fall from asteroids and comets, and when that debris comes into contact with Earth’s atmosphere quickly, it burns up.

This becomes visible as bright streaks in the sky, also known as shooting stars.

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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5437772/whats-difference-between-comets-asteroids-meteors-nasa/ What is the difference between comets, asteroids and meteors? How Nasa defines the space rocks

Chris Barrese

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