What happens to meteors after they vaporize?

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

meteorites that are not large enough to reach the ground vaporize in the atmosphere (as do large portions of the ones that are). What happens to the vaporized material in the atmosphere?

A little bit of internet research indicates meteorites are composed primarily of iron, nickel, and silicone. Do these elements also represent most of the material that would be vaporized on entry or do these materials remain solid/liquid while other, lighter elements in the meteorite vaporize? None of these materials are going to remain gaseous at earths ambient atmospheric temperature. I would guess that they oxidize in the atmosphere and then waft around as individual molecules of NiO, SiO2, FeO, Fe3O3, and Fe3O4 until they either gradually settle out onto the ground or ocean or get rinsed out of the air by rain water. Is this guess correct? If so, how much of the material comes down with rain water and how much settles out without rain? How long do these materials stay in the atmosphere?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
OmCheeto
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I can't remember where I first saw this, but it was probably around the time the Russian meteorite came down this year. It was a different article, but basically the same information:

How to Collect Micrometeorites in Your Backyard

Meteors rain down on the earth every hour of every day. Most of these are hardly larger than a grain of rice or a pea. The majority are little more than particles of dust, 10 to 40 micrometers (0.0004-0.0016 inch) in size. The average one is scarcely a quarter of the width of a human hair. The atmosphere makes short work of the larger ones. The remainder of these small meteors—-called "micrometeorites"—-are perpetually sifting down to the surface. Ten thousand tons of them every day.
One of these days, I'm going to do the experiment, as I've 375 Bucky Cubes just sitting around doing nothing.
 

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