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A better approach to finding meteorites than searching places with few rocks, however, is to search places where they can accumulate over time—i.e., where the surface is quite old and rates of weathering are low.
Because meteorites contain minerals, such as iron metal, that are easily weathered, they do not normally last long on Earth’s surface.
(One astronomical unit is the average distance from Earth to the Sun—about 150 million km [93 million miles].) It is in this region that strong gravitational perturbations by the planets, especially Jupiter, can put meteoroids into Earth-crossing orbits.
Not all meteoroids need to have formed in this region, however, as there are a number of processes that can cause their orbits to migrate over long time periods.
It measures 2.7 metres (9 feet) across, is estimated to weigh nearly 60 tons, and is made of an alloy of iron and nickel.
The smallest meteorites, called micrometeorites, range in size from a few hundred micrometres (μm) to as small as about 10 μm and come from the population of tiny particles that fill interplanetary space (asteroids that orbit in the inner portion of the main asteroid belt, between about 2.1 and 3.3 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun.
Indeed, they tend to accumulate on the surface in arid regions if weathering rates are slower than the rates at which meteorites fall to Earth, provided that little windblown sand accumulates to bury them.
Areas of the Sahara in North Africa and the Nullarbor Plain region in Australia have proved to be good places to look for meteorites.
For further discussion of the sources of meteorites and the processes by which they are brought to Earth, meteor and meteoroid: Reservoirs of meteoroids in space and Directing meteoroids to Earth.
The fall can go unnoticed even by those near the impact site, the impact being signaled only by…
Meteorites traditionally are given the name of a geographic feature associated with the location where they are found.
Smaller bodies, on the other hand, generally radiated away this heat quite efficiently, which allowed their interiors to remain relatively cool.
Consequently, they should preserve to some degree the dust and other material from which they formed.