My Life as a Meteor

Nothing is more fun for my kids than staying up late at night to watch a meteor shower.  As we lay on our backs in the back garden, watching chunks of icy rock fall from the sky, the writer side of my brain starts to wonder what it would be like to observe the event from the other side... 

Lee Falin, PhD
3-minute read
Episode #68

Imagine that you’re part of a comet, part of a large ball of ice and rock orbiting the sun in a very long orbit that takes you far outside the solar system. Life is pretty boring for you most of the time, but as you approach the sun, things start to heat up. Bits of the comet break off, leaving a dust trail in space. .

Despite your best efforts to hang on, you too are left behind. Your heart sinks in despair as you realize you’re no longer part of a comet. You are now a meteoroid: a chunk of icy rock floating around in space. 

Once Upon a Time...

At first you rejoice in your newfound freedom. No longer are you tied to that comet; now you’re free to travel around on your own orbit, even though it does appear to be pretty much the same orbit the comet was dragging you along before. 

Just as you’re starting to get used to this new life, you see an enormous blue-green sphere headed towards you. Earth, massive in comparison to you and your other meteoroid friends, starts pulling you towards it with its irresistible gravity.

Soon you’re hurtling towards the surface of the Earth, laughing at the hand fate has dealt you. As you enter the Earth’s atmosphere you decide to cast off all pretense. You’re no longer a mere meteoroid; you’re a meteor: a piece of icy rock hurtling through the atmosphere.


Please note that archive episodes of this podcast may include references to Ask Science. Rights of Albert Einstein are used with permission of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Represented exclusively by Greenlight.

About the Author

Lee Falin, PhD

Dr. Lee Falin earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology from Virginia Tech.