MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Residents across Hidalgo County heard a loud blast Wednesday evening, with Rio Grande Valley officials saying it was caused by a meteorite… or meteor?
Well, they used both terms.
ValleyCentral spoke with Carol Lutsinger, founder of the South Texas Astronomical Society, to get clarification on the terminology used.
“Meteorite is when the meteor hits the ground,” Lutsinger said. “It’s a meteor after it enters our atmosphere, a meteorite when it hits the ground and a meteoroid as it’s moving through space before it enters our atmosphere.”
NASA echoed the same explanation, saying that when a meteoroid enters the atmosphere and burns up, the “shooting stars” or fireballs are called meteors.
If the meteoroid survives the trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it is then called a meteorite.
As of Thursday morning, it’s unknown whether the meteor made impact, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said.
Guerra initially posted Wednesday night that federal authorities told him that a meteorite was spotted west of McAllen. Guerra said he was “schooled” on Twitter about the differences between a meteor and meteorite.
The search for the location of a possible impact remains ongoing, and local authorities urge citizens to report any possible scenes. Guerra also warned citizens not to touch anything, if they find what they believe to be remnants from the possible meteorite.