A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives an impact with the Earth’s surface. While in space it is called a “meteoroid.” When it enters the atmosphere, impact pressure causes the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting star.
More generally, a meteorite on the surface of any celestial body is a natural object that has come from elsewhere in space. Meteorites have been found on the Moon and Mars.
Meteorites that are recovered after being observed as they transited the atmosphere or impacted the Earth are called “falls.” All other meteorites are known as “finds.” As of mid-2006, there were approximately 1,050 witnessed falls having specimens in the world’s collections. In contrast, there are over 31,000 well-documented meteorite finds.