Space Rocks: What Are They? And Other Curious Space Facts For Kids!

Supriya Jain
Sep 01, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
rock isolated on black background

Did you know that about 29,000 objects floating in Earth’s orbit alone?

Space and all the mysteries that come with it have fascinated humans for a very long time. Due to growing technology and scientific discoveries, we have been able to unravel a fraction of the mystery.

Space rocks are lumps made up of various objects like ice, dust, and minerals. Some of these rocks can be as small as a tiny grain of sand or a few meters in length, while some can be huge, like mountains.

These space rocks continuously float in space and sometimes fall into the orbits of other planets due to planetary gravity.

These rocks have been divided into three types depending upon their size and matter namely asteroids, meteoroids, and comets.

These rocks travel from one place to another and sometimes the bigger rocks can pose a danger if passed too close to a planet’s atmosphere.

But, you will be surprised to know that small rocks also known as meteoroids pass through the Earth’s atmosphere every day, as many as a million meteoroids can be seen passing through the planet’s atmosphere daily!

Comets are comparatively larger rocks than meteors but are made up completely of ice. Comets are said to be generated from an area beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper belt, which is far away from the sun and is extremely cold.

These snowballs start to vaporize as they come closer to the sun due to solar heat and leave behind a bright glowing cloud. Comets are attracted to the sun due to solar gravitational pull.

After reading about the space rocks and their impact on the Earth and the Moon, also check out facts about space trains and the whirlpool galaxy.

What are the big rocks in space called?

These big rocks that float around in three-dimensional infinite space can be huge but not big enough to be called planets, because of their large size they are also popularly known as planetoids.

These large chunks can be made up of a variety of materials such as dust, gravel, ice, and metal. Asteroids revolve around the sun just like planetary revolution but can sometimes change their course.

It is said that asteroids are made up of the material that was left over after the creation of the universe and the solar system.

The majority of asteroids are found floating between Mars and Jupiter and are together known as the asteroid belt in the solar system.

It is said that asteroids could have crashed into each other and formed another planet altogether but Jupiter's gravity prevented that from happening. Many asteroids have crashed into our planet’s surface and it is predicted that many more will hit our planet’s surface in the near future.

There is a popular theory about the planet’s satellites and it is believed that all the planets’ moons were once large asteroids that got pulled into the planet’s orbits due to the gravitational forces among them.

Where are space rocks found?

Space rocks fall onto the Earth’s surface and because of their small size go unnoticed. The shooting stars that we see in the sky and consider lucky are not a star but are meteors that enter our planet’s atmosphere and catch fire. The burning trail of the meteor appears like a falling star.

These shooting stars that enter the Earth’s atmosphere from the solar system, burn up in the sky and most of its debris falls into the oceans, but some materials make their way onto our the surface of our planet.

Roughly 60,000 meteorites have been discovered to date and it is estimated that these don’t even add up to be a fraction of the meteorites that are buried in Earth’s surface waiting to be discovered.

Such rocks are usually found in large areas that have little to no vegetation, usually barren land where spotting a black-colored rock would be easier.

Out of the 60,000 meteorites that have been found on the Earth’s surface to date, 39,000 have been discovered under the ice sheets of Antarctica, all of which have been found during government-led scientific expeditions.

Other large areas where these alien rocks have been found include deserts of Africa where 12,000 rocks have been found, most of them by nomadic travelers and private meteor hunters.

Before trying to hunt a meteor rock, you must ensure to look in the right place that is not government-owned land, or seek permission from the owner if it is on private property.

How do you tell if a rock is from space?

Let’s imagine that after days of hard work and intense hunting you stumble over a dark-colored rock, which you think could be a meteor from outer space, but how can you check to see if it is what you think it is?

Meteors have some very unique features, which make them different from other rocks, after all, they are from out of this world!

Here are some of the things that you can look for in the rock to ensure that it is a meteorite and not an ordinary rock.

Use a magnet: Meteorites are divided into mainly three categories based on their makeup. Some meteorites are stony, some are metallic, and some are a combination of both.

To check if the rock you’ve found is a meteorite try sticking a magnet to it, if the magnet sticks completely then chances are that the meteorite that you’ve stumbled upon is metallic in nature, even if the magnet doesn’t stick due to the stony makeup of the rock the magnet will be attracted to it.

Check the density: Meteorites are very dense, much more than any Earth rock. They feel much heavier for their size since they contain a number of dense minerals and metals. You can check the density of the rock to ensure that it is a meteorite.

Try scratching the rock on a ceramic surface: If the dark-colored rock that you’ve found leaves a red or a black streak on an unglazed ceramic surface when scratched on it, then there are high chances that the rock is composed of magnetite or hematite, which are iron minerals found in rocks that belong to Earth.

These minerals are not present in the rest of the solar system and chances are that the rock you’ve found is not a meteorite but an ordinary iron mineral

Check to see if the rock has shiny specks on it: If the rock that you’ve found is shiny and seems to have light-colored crystals on it, then it could also mean that it is a quartz mineral rock and not a meteorite, this is because quartz is a naturally occurring substance found under the Earth’s crust.

This shiny mineral is unique to Earth and is not found in the solar system; so if your rock has tiny crystals attached to it, then it is not a meteorite but is rather a quartz ore.

Check the rock’s shape: Check the rock’s shape to make sure that it is a meteorite, while this technique is not very reliable in finding out if the rock is surely a meteorite, but it can help rule out the ones that are not.

Meteorites have a very irregular shape and dents on their surface, which resemble fingerprints, so if the rock you have found is circular in shape then chances are that it is not a meteorite.

Check to see if the meteorite has bubbles on it: Another technique to make sure that the rock you’ve found is a meteorite is by checking for bubbles on the surface of the rock, this is because such bubbles are only found on volcanic and other rocks that originate in the Earth’s crust.

A meteorite would not have any bubbles on it.

Rock isolated on white background

How do rocks form in space?

Now that we know what space rocks are and how we can detect one on Earth. You may be wondering how these rocks came into being in the first place.

Asteroids are known to have formed in the early stage of creation after the big bang, according to popular theory, asteroids were made after the leftover dust particles from the making of the solar system collided together.

These chunks that formed after the collision attracted more dust and metallic residue over time and turned large, some of them became large enough to be planets.

These new planets started revolving around the sun, while others came to be known as planetoids and asteroids depending upon their mass.

When the asteroids collide together and cause a bang, which generally goes unnoticed due to the presence of vacuum in space prohibiting sound, they break into small lumps and debris also known as meteors, these meteors then float around in space more freely as they do not have enough mass to orbit around planets.

Comets on the other hand were also created after the big bang, in areas that were far away from the sun beyond Neptune. Comets are also composed of the same materials but are frozen in ice. The comets are concentrated in the belt known as the Kuiper belt and move towards the sun.

Although these space rocks have the potential to grow by attracting small debris and dust, chances of making noticeable growth are highly unlikely as they stopped millions of years ago.

Let’s say that you found a space rock after a careful expedition or by sheer luck. Or if you’re a space geek and want to buy a space rock from the planetary sky, you may wonder how much a space rock costs.

The cost of meteorites can range from anywhere between $0.50 per gram or even to $1,000 per gram depending upon the type, source, and legitimacy of the rock. Iron meteorites are the easiest to locate and therefore are the cheapest space rocks available; they range from $0.50 per gram to $2 per gram.

Stony meteorites are slightly more expensive and can range up to $4 per gram.

The meteorites that are made up of rare minerals are more expensive. Moon rocks, on the other hand, can be bought starting from $ 25 per gram.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for space rocks: What are they? And other curious space facts for kids! Then why not take a look at cuttlefish vs squid: Interesting difference between mollusks revealed! Or who discovered electricity? Curious electricity facts reve

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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