Comets and Meteors

Content Area
Bill Nye The Science Guy
Disney Educational Productions
Space out with Bill Nye to learn more about comets and meteors.
Outer space is full of stuff. We’re not just talking about planets and moons. There are some bits and pieces, too small to be noticed most of the time that float around and occasionally run into all those planets and moons. Comets and meteors are the big bits of dirt, rock and ice that inhabit our Universe. More than just high-speed space chunks, comets and meteors carry important information about the history of our Universe.
Comets are large, icy rocks, sometimes we call them “dirty snowballs,” that travel to the edges of our solar system and do not return for many, many years, hundreds, thousands even millions of years! When a comet passes close to the Sun, it evaporates a little and its rocks separate, making long tails of gas and dust. Meteoroids are rocks that travel through space until they collide with another body – which they frequently do. Meteoroids constantly collide with the Earth. In fact, everyday tons and tons space dust enters the atmosphere and burns up, sometimes creating the blaze of light that appears to us as a shooting star.
The Moon and other planets are pounded by space debris, too. The craters on the moon are the result of its being bombarded by space rocks. Meteorite impacts leave scars where they land. But collisions don’t only leave craters – the Earth’s impact with comets and meteors may have created the Earth’s oceans, caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, or even brought life to Earth from Mars!