Huge fireballs fall from space each year – as 40MILLION kilos of 'extra-terrestrial' material plummets to Earth annually

A NEW estimate of how must space rock is falling to Earth each year has been revealed and it's probably a lot more than you thought.

A team of UK scientists focussed on meteorites above 50g and think about 16,000kg's worth rains down on us annually.

This 16,000kg (17 ton) figure doesn't even take into account the space dust that regularly settles on our planet or the infrequent impacts of larger space rocks.

These are said to boost the figure up to 40,000,000 kg.

Dr Geoff Evatt told the BBC: "The vast, vast majority of objects to hit the Earth are really small.

"We're talking about objects for which, when they strike the ground, the fragments sum together to over 50g. So, typically, 50g-10kg in total."

The University of Manchester mathematician added: "Objects bigger than this are very, very infrequent."

The study also enabled researchers to work out a risk assessment of space rocks hitting certain areas.

For example, they found that the amount of meteorites found at Earth's poles is about 60% more than you would expect at the equator.

Most meteorites on Earth are found in Antarctica.

This is likely aided by the fact that the black rocks standout against the white snow.

Dr Evatt and his team went on a meteorite hunting quest in East Antarctica.

They found that they could successfully estimate how many space rocks they would find in their selected search areas.

Then they used this to create a global estimate.

They took into account a range of our planet's factors to estimate around 17,000 falls a year.

Prof Sara Russell, leader of the planetary materials group at London's Natural History Museum commented on the study to the BBC.

She told the news outlet: "I think this is an amazing study, and this estimate sounds like it is in the right sort of ballpark.

"We think a total of about 40,000 tonnes (so 40,000,000 kg) of extra-terrestrial material falls to Earth each year, but the vast majority of this is in the form of tiny dust grains.

"This is a very difficult measurement to make with any accuracy and only about half a dozen meteorites are actually seen to fall each year, but of course almost all meteorite falls are not observed because they fall in the sea, in unpopulated areas or just no-one is looking!"

The researchers published their findings in the journal Geology.

Cambridge University, Imperial College London, Manchester University and the British Antarctic Survey worked together for the study.

What's the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?

Here's what you need to know, according to Nasa…

  • Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
  • Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
  • Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it'll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
  • Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn't vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth's atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
  • Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)


In other news, Elon Musk has plans to make his Starlink satellites "invisible to the naked eye".

Nasa has a list of 22 asteroids that might hit Earth.

And, Nasa astronauts will launch into space from US soil next month for the first time in nearly a decade.

What do you think of all these meteorites falling to Earth? Let us know in the comments…

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