Comets, Asteroids, And Meteors (Astronaut Travel Guides) [PORTABLE]
Most are pieces of other, larger bodies that have been broken or blasted off. Some come from comets, others from asteroids, and some even come from the Moon and other planets. Some meteoroids are rocky, while others are metallic, or combinations of rock and metal.
Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors (Astronaut Travel Guides)
Most comets travel a safe distance from the sun - comet Halley comes no closer than 89 million kilometers (55 million miles). However, some comets, called sungrazers, crash straight into the Sun or get so close that they break up and evaporate.
On 22 January 2014, European Space Agency (ESA) scientists reported the detection, for the first definitive time, of water vapor on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The detection was made by using the far-infrared abilities of the Herschel Space Observatory. The finding was unexpected because comets, not asteroids, are typically considered to "sprout jets and plumes". According to one of the scientists, "The lines are becoming more and more blurred between comets and asteroids".
Meteoroids travel around the Sun in a variety of orbits and at various velocities. The fastest move at about 42 km/s (94,000 mph) through space in the vicinity of Earth's orbit. This is escape velocity from the Sun, equal to the square root of two times Earth's speed, and is the upper speed limit of objects in the vicinity of Earth, unless they come from interstellar space. Earth travels at about 29.6 km/s (66,000 mph), so when meteoroids meet the atmosphere head-on (which only occurs when meteors are in a retrograde orbit such as the Eta Aquariids, which are associated with the retrograde Halley's Comet) the combined speed may reach about 71 km/s (160,000 mph) (see Specific energy#Astrodynamics). Meteoroids moving through Earth's orbital space average about 20 km/s (45,000 mph).