What do Meteorites Look Like?

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As compared to Earth rocks, meteorites have several features which can be used to establish their extraterrestrial origin. The surface of a meteorite is generally very smooth and featureless, but often has shallow depressions and deep cavities resembling clearly visible thumbprints in wet clay. Meteorites which have fallen recently may have a black “ash-like” crust on their surface. This provides evidence of their flaming entry through the atmosphere. However, this crust weathers to a rusty brown color after several years of exposure on the Earth’s surface and will eventually disappear altogether. The size of a meteorite will vary from microscopic to a very large mass several feet in diameter. Most recovered meteorites measure between 2 inches and 2 feet in diameter. The largest meteorite ever discovered is still in the ground in South Africa because it was too large to move. The shape of a meteorite is seldom round; they are usually very irregular in appearance and come in a variety o