Little chunks of rock and debris in space are called meteoroids. They become meteors -- or shooting stars -- when they fall through a planet's atmosphere; leaving a bright trail as they are heated to incandescence by the friction of the atmosphere. Pieces that survive the journey and hit the ground are called meteorites.
Featured Mission: ANSMET
Since 1976, the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) has recovered more than 10,000 meteorite specimens from Antarctica. The ANSMET specimens are currently the only reliable, continuous source of new, non-microscopic extraterrestrial material, and will continue to be until future planetary sample return missions are successful.
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