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ASTEROIDS, METEORITES, AND COMETS In this lesson you will learn about the following from the Utah State core: •Explain how meteorite impacts could that contribute to the extinction of a species. •Explain evidence supporting the theory of impacts causing large-scale extinctions in the past. ASTEROID A piece of rock, smaller than a planet, that orbits the sun; mostly between Mars and Jupiter in an area called the asteroid belt. (Gaspra) Gaspra Ida Ida If an asteroid impacts a planet or moon it is called a meteorite. The one mile wide Barringer Crater in Arizona was created by a 150 foot wide meteorite that impacted Earth 50,000 years ago. Large impacts of meteors or comets can dramatically affect climate worldwide due to sunlight being blocked out for long periods of time. Northern Namibia Why is there no crater? Impact was at a low angle, much like skipping a rock on water. A Meteorite “Fender-Bender” In 1992 a 27 pound meteorite smashed into this car. Comet West (1976) COMET: A mass of frozen gases, dust, and rock particles that often develop a bright tail when it passes near the sun. Comet Hyakutake (1996) tail coma nucleus A comets tail always points away from the sun due to solar winds. Sometimes the tail will be out in front of the comet as it’s traveling around the sun. Comet Neat Ikeya-Zhang What happens to the size of a comet each time it passes by the sun? It gets smaller in size as it melts and forms a tail. Halley’s Comet (The last time Halley’s Comet was seen was in 1986. It is due back again around 2062.) Comet Hale-Bopp on March 8, 1997 REVIEW ASTEROID = Chunk of rock in space that orbits sun. METEOR = Asteroid that has entered a planets atmosphere. METEORITE = Meteor that has impacted a planet. What is a shooting star? A meteor burning up in our atmosphere.
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