Why is it important to study meteorites? (Beginner)

Why are meteorites so important to the study of the earth? I mean what do they tell us about the earth?

Meteorites are left-overs from the formation of the solar system. While Earth rock has been reprocessed by geological forces over many eons, most meteorites have never experienced any reprocessing and are just as they were when the solar system was formed. By examining a metorite, we are looking at the chemical composition of the solar system as it was being born.

A few meteorites come to us from the Moon or other planets, such as Mars. When you are holding a piece of martian meteorite in your hand, you are holding an actual real piece of the red planet. By studying these kinds of meteorites, we learn about the geology and atmospheres of other planets at long ago times, when the meteorite was chipped off the planet.

This page was last updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Dave Kornreich

Dave was the founder of Ask an Astronomer. He got his PhD from Cornell in 2001 and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Science at Humboldt State University in California. There he runs his own version of Ask the Astronomer. He also helps us out with the odd cosmology question.

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