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Word of the Day: Meteorite

When a giant space rock strikes the earth, you should know what it's called.
russia meteor shower Enlarge
Meteor or meteorite? Let's call the whole thing off. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Meteor versus Meteorite. 

What's the difference? Why does it matter?

Well, for starters, when a giant space rock punctures the Earth's atmosphere and wreaks havoc on infrastrusture and injures nearly 1,000 people, we think it's important to know exactly what the culprit is. And frankly, it looks like there have been conflicting reports.

According to Ria Novosti, a hail of meteorite fragments struck Russia earlier this morning.

And The BBC qualified the fireball that streaked through the clear morning sky as a meteor strike.

While the difference may seem like a mere case of semantics, we saw this as an opportunity to learn something new. And who are we kidding, any excuse to cite NASA is fine by us.

So in the spirit and pursuit of ongoing education — and in light of today's conflicting headlines — we could not think of a better time to set the record straight on these celestial shades of gray.

For the record, here is how NASA defines spacial bodies:

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/quick-click/russia-meteorite-meteor-explosion-NASA