Space Traveling Rocks

{And that we sought to reach heaven, but we found it filled with strong guards and meteors.} (Surat Al-Jinn 72:8).

Most people have seen one of them during a dark night at least once in their lifetime. They cut through the black sky with their lovely colors. One can almost feel disappointed every time they pass by because of their speed for wanting to have a better glimpse of them.

Meteoroids (which are referred to as meteors if they become visible in the sky, or meteorites if they make it to the ground) are composed of chemicals that existed during the formation of our solar system which may have been a crucial source of the organic chemical compounds that gave rise to life on Earth.

Their diameters range between hundreds of micrometers to tens of meters. Beside visual observations, meteors can also be detected by sending radio waves towards them and capturing them back as they bounced off their trails.

Meteors are useful for meteorology and weather forecasting as we can measure atmospheric density as well as wind speed and direction by measuring the decay rate of a meteor’s trail.

The color of a meteorite depends upon its chemical composition. Orange and yellow, for instance, are caused by sodium; yellow can also be caused by iron; blue and green come from copper; purple comes for potassium, and red comes from silicate.

This article was first published in 2011 and is currently republished for its relevance.