The Ultimate Meteorite Quiz

The Ultimate Meteorite Quiz
Image: Corbis

About This Quiz

Meteors and meteorites have fascinated human beings for ages, but have you managed to turn your fascination into some hardcore knowledge? Wishing on a star isn't going to help you now.
The terms meteoroid, meteor and meteorite each refer to a different stage in an object's descent. What do we call it as it streaks through a planet's atmosphere?
meteor
When a meteoroid enters a planet's atmosphere, it becomes a meteor. If that meteor survives the friction of re-entry and makes landfall, then it becomes a meteorite.
meteoroid
meteorite

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Which of the following religious artifacts is thought to contain fragments of a meteorite?
the Ark of the Covenant
the Black Stone
Many experts believe the Black Stone to be a meteorite. Housed in the Kaaba within the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Islamic relic consists of several black fragments surrounded by silver.
relic of the tooth of Buddha

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Several meteorites have made quite a name for themselves on Earth. Scan this list of three cosmic celebrities and pick the one that stands accused of the 1911 death of an Egyptian dog.
Nakhla
The Nakhla meteorite reportedly killed a dog when it touched down on June 28, 1911, in Egypt. Chicxulub was charged with an even greater crime: snuffing out most of the life on Earth 65 million years ago. Hoba, on the other hand, may very well be innocent. The 60-ton bad boy may be the largest known meteorite on the planet, but it was only discovered in 1920, roughly 80,000 years after it slammed into Earth. It could have killed thousands of dogs for all we know, but who's gonna prove it?
Chicxulub
Hoba

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Dead dinosaurs? Religious relics? Meteors can be a big deal, but just how many 3.5-ounce (0.1-kilogram) and larger meteors enter the Earth's atmosphere on a given day?
200
2,000
20,000
Close to 20,000 meteors weighing 3.5-ounces (0.1-kilograms) or more enter the atmosphere every day. Go smaller, and the count quickly gets downright astronomic. Meteorites the size of dust particles enter the atmosphere each day by the billions.

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The Black Stone isn't the only meteorite thought to hold religious significance. Which meteorite, also known as "Tomanowos," is venerated by the Clackamas tribe of North America?
Sikhote-Alin
The Willamette Meteorite
The Clackamas viewed the Willamette Meteorite as a representative of the sky people and a source of potent healing energy. Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon continue to make annual ceremonial visits to see Tomanowos at the American Museum of Natural History.
Orgueil Meteorite

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It's hard to gauge the effectiveness of wishing on a falling star, but that doesn't mean meteors and meteorites are useless. Which of the following ways can you NOT use a meteor or meteorite?
heal a wound
Sorry, there's no science to back up those healing meteorites you find in New Age crystal shops. Yet humans have crafted swords and jewelry from meteoric iron since ancient times, and you can even bounce a radio transmission off meteor ion trails in the atmosphere to help convey the signal over long distances.
build a sword
send a radio transmission

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In 1992, the Peekskill meteorite burned a trail through the atmosphere and managed to steal the headlines for a few days. What did it do?
It hit a small German boy.
It stirred up a tornado.
It dented a 1980 Chevy Malibu.
In one of the most analyzed meteor strikes ever, this particular piece of the heavens seared U.S. skies from Kentucky to Pittsburgh. Then it touched down in Peekskill, NY, thumping a 1980 Chevy Malibu in the trunk. The car would later tour the world, more an item of interest than the cosmic fragment that hit it.

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In 2007, a meteorite reportedly made hundreds of residents in a village near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru sick. How?
The resulting crater ruptured sewer lines, polluting the water supply.
It caused carbon dioxide to rise from a nearby volcanic lake.
It freaked people out and stirred up arsenic in the soil.
Peru's Mining, Metallurgy and Geology Institute confirmed that a meteorite did crash in the area and that the impact stirred up arsenic fumes. Some of the cases, however, were attributed to a psychosomatic reaction.

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A 160-foot (49-meter) meteorite landed in Arizona about 50,000 years ago, leaving behind a mile-wide (1.6-kilometer) and 50-foot (174-meter) deep gash in the ground. We know it today as the Barringer Crater, or Meteor Crater. Based on this scenario, how big a crater (in diameter) do you think the six-mile-wide (10-kilometer-wide) Vredefort Meteorite caused in South Africa?
8 miles (13 kilometers)
86 miles (138 kilometers)
186 miles (299 kilometers)
At 186 miles (299 kilometers) wide, the 2-billion-year-old Vredefort Dome in South Africa is the site of the biggest impact crater on Earth.

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The Leonid and Perseid meteor showers annually light up the night sky with brief trails of incandescence. But just what dumps all this cosmic dandruff on us every year?
The Earth passes through debris left in the wake of a comet.
Both the Leonid and Perseid Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a comet's trail. The Leonid shower is due to the Temple-Tuttle comet, which passes near Earth's orbit every 33 years. The Perseid shower is caused by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which speeds through roughly every 130 years.
Meteorites strike our unprotected moon, blasting lunar dust back at the Earth.
Meteor showers occur every time an angel gets its wings -- or a Norse god sneezes. Whichever event happens first.

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Corbis

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