Meteorites are chunks of metallic or stony material that survive their plunge through the Earth’s atmosphere and land on the its surface. Intersecting the Earth’s orbit and surviving a ride through the atmosphere without being vaporized, is a very rare event. While out in space, debris in the solar system is called meteoroids. However, they become meteors when they enter our atmosphere. Meteoroids are generally the size of a grain of sand, and are quickly vaporized by the heat of friction created as they collide with air molecules of the upper atmosphere. We see this vaporization as a “shooting star,” or when several meteors appear seconds or minutes apart we see a “meteor shower.”
Three sites in Kentucky bear the scars of ancient impacts by meteorites. These Kentucky astroblemes represent the highly eroded cores that were situated under the original craters; the crater walls eroded long ago. Each of these structures is characterized by a circular belt of arc-shaped faults crosscut by faults radiating outward from the central core of intensely broken rock.