Every now and then you read an article about an object that could enter our atmosphere, or hear about an entire space rock made of platinum worth over $5 trillion and wonder what the object is actually called. Well, thanks greatly to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), now you know what to call a space object that destroys Earth!. Never again confuse a meteor and a meteorite, despite similar names they are different! A comet is not an asteroid, but when does an asteroid become a meteoroid?

The guide lays it out pretty simply – but also in terrifying fashion. All of the objects are aimed at Earth, so one can only assume that this is either an advanced warning that we’re about to get hit by everything from a fireball to a meteor! Also they conveniently left out any reference to UFOs, which is clearly a conspiracy because… aliens right? So, if you ever wonder what the leftover rock is that hits Earth and wipes out all trace of life, much like the dinosaurs – it’s called a Meteorite.

A Guide to Space Objects

Enjoy the graphic above and check out the CSA for more info on space stuff, but here’s the written content if it’s too small on your browser.

Comet – A mass of ice, rock and dust drifting in space that often has a tail, which crows as it gets closer to the Sun. The tail is made up of water, dust and various gases vaporized by solar energy.

Asteroid – A body made up of rocks, both metallic and non-metallic, that orbits the Sun, usually in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Some asteroids are comet nuclei. They range in size from a few centimeters to a thousand kilometers.

Meteoroid – A rock, often an asteroid fragment, that is bigger than a grain of sand and orbits the Sun. The term ‘meteoroid’ refers to the object before it enters the atmosphere.

Meteor – A meteoroid that enters the Earth’s atmosphere becomes a meteor. It burns up as it travels through the atmosphere, producing a streak of light. A meteor can arrive in Earth’s vicinity¬†as a lone object (shooting star) or in clusters (meteor shower).

Fireball – Meteor that burns as it travels through our atmosphere, leaving behind a very bright streak of light. This rather rare phenomenon is the result of a meteoroid that is larger or denser than usual. Sometimes it is even visible during the day.

Meteorite – When a meteor does not completely burn up as it travels through the atmosphere, the fragment found on the ground is called a meteorite.