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A meteorite according to the Oxford English Dictionary is

A piece of rock or metal that has fallen to the earth's surface from outer space as a meteor.

But, meteors impact other planets. Are they still meteorites? Or is there another word for them. And, if they are still called meteorites, what is the threshold for an object to be impacted upon by a meteor or meteoroid in this case, and still have the meteoroid be called a meteorite. Are meteoroids impacting Pluto or Pallas meteorites?

We expect the OED to be authoritative so I am just curious if they have let us down or if the clever space brains have a taxonomy to differentiate them.

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    $\begingroup$ The OED is an authoritative description of how people are actually using the language - they do not define what the language is, they just observe. $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica May 9 '19 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinBonner that may be a distinction without a difference. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 9 '19 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ Small addition to the answers: A "martian meteorite" is a meteorite that hit Earth and came originally from Mars. This subtlety is also no caught in the "authoritative" OED definition. $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape May 9 '19 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinBonner True, of course. But whether you (correctly) believe that the OED tells us how people use the word "meteorite" or (incorrectly) believe that the OED tells us how we are allowed to use it, the question still stands. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby May 10 '19 at 12:30
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Oxford English Dictionary is an authoritative source, but it's aimed at the general public. I think no astronomer will frown upon you when you're using the terms meteoroid and meteorite to describe a small body impacting another body in the solar system. As an example, Wikipedia doesn't impose the limitation that it must hit Earth:

A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that originates in outer space and survives its passage through the atmosphere to reach the surface of a planet or moon.

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Wikipedia's entry for Heat Shield Rock says:

Heat Shield Rock is a basketball-sized iron-nickel meteorite found on Mars by the Mars rover Opportunity in January 2005. The meteorite was formally named Meridiani Planum meteorite by the Meteoritical Society in October, 2005 (meteorites are always named after the place where they were found)

The Meteorical Society publishes the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science. "The journal's broad focus is planetary science."

So it seems the words meteoritics and meteorite are in fact used without restriction to Earth.

Literature surrounding the discovery of Egg Rock meteorite on Mars calls it a meteorite:

Images from EarthSky, credit NASA/JPL/ASU, captions "October 30, 2016 image via Curiosity rover on Mars" (click for larger size):

"Egg Rock" meteorite on Mars "Egg Rock" meteorite on Mars "Egg Rock" meteorite on Mars

Also, there is the meteorite named Heat Shield Rock, also on Mars:

Heat Shield Rock is a basketball-sized iron-nickel meteorite found on Mars by the Mars rover Opportunity in January 2005. The meteorite was formally named Meridiani Planum meteorite by the Meteoritical Society in October, 2005 (meteorites are always named after the place where they were found)

Heat Shield Rock Source


It's not limited to Mars either

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