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On February 15, 2013, a meteor exploded in the air over Chelyabinsk, a region in southern Russia. A meteor is a “space rock” that has crashed into Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteors are tiny and not dangerous. They burn up in the atmosphere, causing their nicknames “shooting star” or “falling star.”
The Chelyabinsk meteor was no ordinary meteor, though! It had a mass of about 11,000 metric tons (12,125 short tons) when it entered Earth’s atmosphere. Most of the Chelyabinsk meteor burned up when it exploded in the sky. When the space rock was found at the bottom of a nearby lake, it didn’t even weigh one ton. That’s like going from the weight of more than 1,600 elephants to one crocodile.

irregularly shaped planetary body, ranging from 6 meters (20 feet) to 933 kilometers (580 miles) in diameter, orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.


person who studies the relationship between matter, energy, motion, and force outside the Earth's atmosphere.


layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.


to burn.


rocky debris from space that enters Earth's atmosphere. Also called a shooting star or falling star.


type of rock that has crashed into Earth from outside the atmosphere.


to move in a circular pattern around a more massive object.


any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

shock wave

moving, measurable change in pressure and density of a material.

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