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TITLE: Where Do Meteorites Come From?

[Photo: Inner Solar System]

Most meteorites come from the asteroid belt. The first clear evidence came in 1959, when scientists were able to photograph an incoming meteorite with enough accuracy to calculate its orbit and determine where it originated. Later, other meteorites were traced back to the asteroid belt as well. In the 1980s, we recognized that a few rare meteorites come from the Moon and Mars. Comets are probably a significant source of the dust-like micrometeorites that shower the Earth each day.

See caption at right.

Retracing the Path The Peekskill (New York) meteorite’s dramatic fall to Earth in 1992 was videotaped by at least 14 people in different cities. Watch four of them here and learn how calculating the meteorite's path depends on having very different vantage points like these.


Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History