Where Do Meteorites Dissolve in the Earth's Atmosphere?

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Meteorites dissolve in the Earth's atmosphere due to the burning process. Find out where meteorites dissolve in the Earth's atmosphere with help from an experienced education professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: About Astrophysics & Outer Space
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Hi, my name is Eylene Pirez, and I'm an astrophysicist and this is, 'Where do meteorites dissolve in the Earth's atmosphere?" So the first thing to be clear is that a meteorite is actually a rock found on the surface of the Earth and a meteor is the actual rock burning into the atmosphere so the question should be rephrased to where do meteors burn in the atmosphere. Now the answer is it can burn throughout the entire atmosphere if it's big enough or it can go through a little bit of the atmosphere and then dissolve entirely and it really just depends on the size of the meteor but what I can say is where in the atmosphere does this start to burn. I can't really say without knowing the size of the meteor where it will be finally dissolved but I can tell you where it is beginning to burn. About 100 kilometers above the surface we have something called the Karman line and this is kind of where we define where the friction, atmospheric fraction and drag and pressure really become significant and they can interact with celestial objects. So as the meteor is coming with a lot of speed and hits the Karman Line, it starts facing the resistance of the air so the air force will push against the star that is burning or causing friction around the surface and will eventually dissolve the meteor, that's if the meteor is small enough. So to summarize, it actually starts burning at the Karman Line and where it actually dissolves depends on the size of the meteor. My name is Eylene Pirez and I'm an astrophysicist and this is, "Where do meteors burn in the atmosphere?"

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