It Fell Out of the Sky

A story sent to me as a comment on meteorwrong number 101

"Many years ago a friend and his buddies, who were michievous lads in a rural area, found an old yoke from a lawnmower. Pondering what to do with such a find, he came up with the idea of making a giant slingshot. They found some truly huge rubber bands and collected a stash of appropriate sized stones, and they managed to rig up the device in an abandoned field outside town. They disported themselves on a fine morning by launching their missiles idly into the air until they became bored, then wandered off in search of fresh amusement. The next day, there was a story in the local paper about a mysterious hail of rocks from the sky. No one was hurt, but several cars suffered some damage."

 

From the Peoria Journal Star

Rock That Smashed Window Likely from Recycling Center

Friday, April 6, 2007

BY: Fitzgerald M. Doubet
of the Journal Star

BLOOMINGTON - The alleged meteorite that crashed through a Bloomington couple's home last month now appears to have a more earthly origin. Robert "Skip" Nelson, a professor of geology at Illinois State University, along with his colleagues, originally believed the metallic rock that landed March 5 in David and Dee Riddle's home at 25 Partner Place to be a meteorite. Upon further examination, his theory has changed.

"It appears that it was a piece of metal, steel actually, that had been embedded in a log probably as a growing tree," Nelson said. "The log was put into a wood chipper, an industrial wood chipper. Inside the chipper the hammers were revolving at a significant velocity, and when they hit this piece of metal in there, it kicked it out the top of the chipper with a velocity in excess of 200 miles an hour."

Nelson believes the piece of steel - about the size and shape of a deck of cards - inadvertently wound up in the wood chipper at Twin City Wood Recycling on Oakland Avenue.

"They found that it came crashing through the house, and traveling that velocity, the first thought was that it was a meteor," Nelson said. "It was coming down at a 60 degree angle. When it was shot out, or ejected from the chipper, it traveled over 300 meters, more than 900 feet, two city blocks. It was really moving and had a trajectory like you fired it out of a mortar."

John Wollrab, owner of Twin City Wood Recycling, said foreign objects making their way through the chipper is not common.

"It happens from time to time, but we try to prevent that," Wollrab said.

The Riddles plan to keep the shiny black piece of steel around as a memento of their experience.

"It was fun. I'm a little disappointed, though," Dee Riddle said. "It would have been a lot more fun if it had been even something from outer space, maybe not even a meteorite. We have had fun with it, and we will keep it just as a conversation piece."

 

From the Asbury Park Press

Tests Show Object Isn't Meteorite

Saturday, May 12, 2007

BY:Joseph Sapia
of the Journal Star
Freehold Bureau

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP - The flying object that came crashing through the roof of a township house in January was not a meteorite, as initially thought.

Not to worry. It appears man-made, not space invader-made, according to recent testing, information about which was released Friday.

"Basically, it's a piece of stainless steel," said Jeremy Delaney, a Rutgers University meteoriticist who became involved in analyzing the item Jan. 3, the day after it fell and when the homeowner notified township police.

The rock-like item was silver and brown, lumpy but smooth. It was about 2-1/2 inches by 1-1/2 inches, weighing about 13 ounces.

Because the object had no specific distinguishing characteristics, "we can't take it much further" to identify its source, Delaney said. Although it remains an unidentified flying object, Delaney speculated it was "space junk," or spacecraft debris.

Srinivasan Nageswaran, whose family discovered the silver object after it crashed through the roof and into the upstairs bathroom of his home, was disappointed by the news.

"That's the nature of science," the 46-year-old information technology consultant said Friday. "If the conclusion from the test says it's not a meteorite, then it's not a meteorite. We have to move forward.

"It's still the world's most popular metallic object that fell from the sky," Nageswaran said.

Debris falls daily.

About 11,000 items of space debris larger than about 4 inches are known to exist, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. All told, according to NASA, tens of millions of space debris items probably exist.

Over the last 40 years, an average of one piece per day of known space debris has fallen to Earth, with no serious injuries or significant damage to property confirmed, according to the space agency.

"Space junk is kind of a default answer," Delaney said, explaining conventional aircraft would be eliminated as a source because the Federal Aviation Administration reported none in the area at the time of the crash.

Peter Elliott, a Colts Neck metallurgist involved in an early analysis of the object - and who thought it was a meteorite - suspected space debris when told of the test results.

The item seems to have come from space because of a triangle-like pattern, suggesting heat, Elliott said. An item falling from a conventional aircraft at a lower altitude would not have had the heat pattern, Elliott said.

About a week and a half ago, scientists viewed the item under a new, advanced electron microscope at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, then immediately analyzed the results, Delaney said. By the end of that day, the scientists from the museum and Rutgers concluded it was not a meteorite, Delaney said.

The item had chromium, a typical component of stainless steel, Delaney said. A meteorite would have been basically nickel and iron, Delaney said.

"This particular composition is not one we've ever seen (happening naturally)," Delaney said.

The delay in testing the item was a combination of arranging schedules of the Nageswaran family and those of scientists, as well as the availability of the microscope, Delaney said.

"It's a new tool and it's very much in demand," Delaney said of the microscope.

On Jan. 2, the item crashed into the family's home in the Colts Pride development along Route 537. It went through the roof, then into a second-floor bathroom, where it bounced off a tile floor and embedded into the wall, according to township police.

Early on, there seemed a sureness the object was a meteorite. Its shape, density, color and magnetism suggested meteorite, according to Rutgers.

Household stainless steel generally is nonmagnetic, Elliott said. But stainless steel does come in magnetic forms, Elliott said.

"There was a sureness in the evidence that was available - the physical evidence," Delaney said. "But we wanted to test it more thoroughly."

Delaney said he was unaware of any continued analysis now that the item is determined not to be a meteorite.

"I was pretty comfortable from right when I first saw it (that it was a meteorite)," said Elliott, who was not involved in the recent testing. " I wonder how many of the past ones (believed to be meteorites) were fully analyzed."

On Jan. 27, the Rutgers University Geology Museum displayed the object as a meteorite at its open house.

"Oh, well, you win some, you lose some," said Delaney, speaking of the display. "Now, we are in the position of saying, "Oops.' "

The public, now, has a glimpse of how scientific analysis works, Delaney said.

"New experimental evidence routinely causes scientists to change earlier hypotheses that were based on the best information available at that time," Delaney said.

After the object crashed through the roof, various people reported objects falling from the sky. Delaney viewed up to 50 objects, with all turning out to be a "meteorwrong" - not a meteorite.

Of the 50, only one falling in the "same general area" on possibly the same day might be related debris, Delaney said. No more information was immediately available on the other object.

Aircraft debris would have fallen at the same time, while orbiting debris could have fallen over hours, Delaney said.

Had it been a meteorite, within the context of it crashing through a house, "it was probably worth several thousand dollars," Delaney said.

And, now that it is likely man-made debris?

"Zero, regrettably," Delaney said.

 

From Telegraph.co.uk

Suspected meteorite was concrete lump that fell from passing plane
A suspected meteorite that landed on a cricket pitch was in fact a lump of concrete probably dislodged from the bottom of a passing aircraft, experts have concluded.

July 30, 2010

The lump of rock was initially thought to have been the first extra-terrestrial object to land on Britain for almost two decades.

Jan Marszal and Richard Haynes were watching Sussex play Middlesex at Uxbridge when the rock landed inside the boundary rope, split in two and popped up and hit Mr Marszal, a 51-year-old IT consultant, in the chest.

At the time he said: "It was travelling really fast.

"It was definitely not a stone thrown by a member of the crowd. It must have been part of a meteorite.

"We can't think of anything else it could have been. It is a rocky type of substance."

Such was the interest generated by their account that the pair even received a call from 87-year-old astronomy expert Sir Patrick Moore.

But on Thursday, Dave Harris of the British and Irish Meteroite Society revealed the rock did not appear to have fallen from space.

He said: "I'm afraid it's nothing more than a piece of Portland cement with flecks of brick dust and flint in it.

"It is most probably something that fell off the undercarriage of a plane. It was not like a meteorite at all."

The piece of cement was also sent to renowned planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, the leader of the Beagle Mars lander project in 2003, who came to the same conclusion.

Mr Marszal said: "I had never seen a meteorite before so didn't know what one looked like but it came down from the sky and I couldn't think what else it could have been.

"I am disappointed but in some ways I glad it's all over and we now know what it is."

 

From APP.com

Toms River man learns mysterious rock that landed in his yard is not a meteorite

By HARTRIONO B. SASTROWARDOYO •

October 6, 2010

TOMS RIVER — The mysterious rock that almost conked township resident Salvadore D'Addario on the head a year ago is still that: a mystery.

Experts from the planetariums at Ocean County College, here, and Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg said Wednesday it most definitely is not a meteorite.

"It's molded. It doesn't have the right shape, nor does it have burn marks," said William P. McClain, a Raritan Valley planetarium instructor who has a background in geology and meteorology.

Shrugging his shoulders, McClain concluded, "It's a piece of something."

In July 2009, D'Addario had been cutting his backyard when a 3-pound rock of something landed near him.

"I looked around to see if someone was throwing rocks from across the lagoon, but there was no one there," D'Addario said.

D'Addario said the object was warm to the touch — also an indication that it did not originate from beyond the Earth's atmosphere.

"If it came from space, it would have been ice cold," said Gloria A. Villalobos, director of Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College.

That is, an object falling through the atmosphere eventually is slowed by atmospheric friction, quelling any fireballs — although the "slow speed" is relative. Linda Welzenbach, a Smithsonian Institution geologist and meteorite scientist, estimated that one meteorite that hit a Lorton, Va., doctor's office in January had a terminal velocity of 200 mph. By contrast, a skydiver reaches a terminal velocity of about 120 mph.

Villalobos also showed Sal D'Addario and his wife, Arleen, some of the college's meteorites. They all were rounded, had thumb-sized dimples from tumbling through the atmosphere and were attracted to a magnet, Villalobos pointed out.

By contrast, D'Addario's rock was blocky, had no "crust," as would be evident in an iron meteorite, and does not stick to a magnet. There is also an equally mysterious square-shaped impression, as if made by one end of an Allen wrench.

It also is probable that the material did not come from a spent rocket booster or satellite or fall off a plane. D'Addario's rock is heavy for its size, possibly indicating a lead-based composition. It can be scratched by a key, which means it is a soft metal. The aerospace industry generally uses aluminum or titanium, lightweight but strong materials.

McClain and Villalobos suggested that D'Addario take the specimen to a geology laboratory, where scientists can take pieces of it and analyze its composition. D'Addario said he will follow through with the suggestion.

"You may not find out where it came from, but at least you can find out what it is," said Marc Schneider, an Ocean County College planetarium volunteer who brings meteorites to various schools.

 

From http://www.sott.net/articles/show/107513-Believe-it-or-leave-it-strange-stories-of-2005

Police in Newcastle, Australia, reported a spate of frozen chickens smashing into house roofs with great force. They suspected a prankster with a powerful catapult.

 


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Prepared by:

Randy L. Korotev


Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University in St. Louis


Please don't contact me about the meteorite you think you’ve found until you read this and this.

e-mailkorotev@wustl.edu