In May1864, a meteorite smashed into the Earth near Orgueil, France. The pieces of rock were so soft that they could be cut with a knife. Soon, however, the meteorite was causing controversy after organic material was found in the remnants. Eventually though, it was all proven to be a fraud! Somebody had glued pollen seeds into the space rock with coal dust.
In spite of its boring sounding name, ALH84001 attracted quite a bit of attention when scientists declared that it may contain evidence of life on Mars. This was later disproved, but ALH84001’s journey was still quite impressive. Billions of years ago, it was formed in a Martianvolcano. About 15millionyears ago a meteorite strike launched it into space, and it hurled towards Earth. 13,000yearsago, it slammed into the ice of Antarctica and stayed there until it was discovered in 1984. That’s a pretty interesting life for such a boring name!
More technically known as the WillametteMeteorite, this large rock is believed to be the remains of the iron core of a planet that crashed into another planet billions of years ago. Although it was “discovered” by westerners in 1902, Native Americans (Clackamastribe) knew about it for many years. To them, it was a healing source called Tomanowos. These days, the rock is on display at the AmericanMuseum of NaturalHistory in NewYorkCity and members of the tribe still visit it.
On October9, 1992, people attending Friday night football games all across the northeasternUS witnessed an extremely bright streak across the sky. The streak ended its descent by smashing into a ChevyMalibu parked in Peekskill, NewYork. MichelleKnapp, the owner of the car, had bought it for $400. She resold it for $10,000.
In 2016, a mysterious sphere crashed into RiachodosPoços, Brazil. It narrowly missed the home of ValdirJosé Mendes, severed a cashew tree, and dug itself into the ground. It has since been determined to be a Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel. These gas tanks are carried by the space shuttle and used for a wide variety of space missions. Apparently they’re also built to last!
In January1978, radioactive material rained down over northernCanada. It turned out to be from the faulty power generator of a Soviet satellite named Kosmos954. Despite a frantic campaign to clean up the mess (OperationMorningLight), only .1 % of the material was ever recovered.
In 1492, a large rock crashed into the Earth near the French town of Ensisheim. The impact was seen as a sign from heaven because it wouldn’t be for another 300 years until people discovered what meteorites were. The rock was brought into the city and tied down in a church to keep it “Earth–bound.” To this day, it is the oldest preserved meteorite in Europe.
On June30, 1908, a massive explosion occurred in easternSiberia. Nearly 2,000squarekilometers (770squaremiles) of forest were completely flattened. The explosion was roughly 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But the craziest part? No impact crater was ever found. The explosion has been attributed to the air burst of a meteoroid that disintegrated about 10km above the surface of the Earth.
In 2000 some people walking along a beach in CorpusChristi, Texas found a large, mysterious metal object that had washed ashore. They wanted to turn it into a hottub, but when officials determined it to be the end of an Ariane5rocket, NASA objected to the beachcombers’ plans!
In 2009, 14year old GerritBlank was on his way home from school in Germany when he saw a flash of light. Almost immediately a pea sized rock grazed his hand before smashing into the ground and creating a foot wide crater. Fortunately for Gerrit, he escaped with little more than a scar on his hand.
In 1969, the Allendemeteorite crashed into Mexico and led to one of the largest meteorite manhunts in history. The pieces were found to contain elements that are older than our solarsystem! And that’s not all, it had microscopicdiamonds! That’s right, diamonds from space.
Weighing 60tons, the Hobameteorite is the largest known meteorite to ever be found. Although it slammed into present-day Namibia about 80,000yearsago, it wasn’t found until recently. In 1920, a farmer who was plowing his field came across its metallic tip. Today, it has been turned into a nationalmonument.
In January1997, a woman was taking a walk in Oklahoma when she saw a streak of light across the sky and then felt something brush against her shoulder. It turns out that she narrowly missed being smashed by space debris! It was part of a U.S. DeltaIIrocket that was launched the year before.
In 1954, 31yearsoldAnnHodges was sleeping on her couch when a grapefruit sized meteorite came smashing through her roof and struck her on the hip. For this reason, Sylacauga is often known as HodgesMeteorite.
In 1947, the largest ever observed meteorite collision happened in the Sikhote–AlinMountains of southeasternRussia. Witnesses even said that the meteorite was brighter than the sun. Scientists still visit the region today to find and study fragments.