If you think you’ve had a hectic holiday season, consider the plight of one family in Freehold Township New Jersey [map], 50 miles south of New York, whose home was punctured by a meteorite on January 2nd!
A golf ball sized object crashed through the roof of the family’s home, ricocheted off the bathroom tiles and embedded itself into the wall. At the time, authorities were unsure of the nature of the object other than the fact that it seemed metallic, and was not radioactive. Since then experts have determined that it is a metal-rich iron meteorite – possibly from the core of an asteroid.
Unsurprisingly, the family has declined to be identified by news sources, probably in the interests of their privacy and to keep the curious away.
While this is certainly an unusual event, it is not unique. Meteors fall to the Earth all the time, and even though it is rare that they strike objects, animals, or even humans, such events have been recorded. In 2003, a meteor struck a village near Bhubaneswar India [map], damaging several homes and injuring two people. On October 9, 1992, a 12 kg meteorite struck the rear end of a Chevy Malibu belonging to Michelle Knapp of Peekskill, New York [map].
While, in recent years, organizations such as the Spaceguard Project have been engaged in the task of near Earth asteroid tracking, and organizations such as the B612 Foundation have proposed plans for the actual testing of asteroid deflection technologies, meteors such as the one that landed in NJ are far too small to be covered by such efforts.
Fortunately such events are literally astronomically rare.
2007 New Jersey impact
- Possible Meteorite Crashes Through New Jersey Roof: Article at Space.com.
- Authorities find U.S. home hit by meteorite: Article at Reuters science news.
- Meteorite that crashed into New Jersey home temporarily called Freehold Township Meteorite: An article giving more detail about the meteorite itself, on itWire.
- Meteorite strikes Indian village: Article at CNN.com
- Meteorites Hits page maintained by the International Meteorite Collectors Association
- Meteorite’s landing spot a star attraction; Crowds are rushing to see a Peekskill woman’s car: An online reprint of the Gannett Suburban Newspaper‘s article reporting the meteor impact that damaged Michelle Knapp’s 1980 Chevrolet Malibu in 1992.
- Astronomy Picture of the day, Nov 19, 2006: photo of Michelle Knapp’s 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, along with the Peekskill Meteorite from NASA’s photo of the day archive.
- The Peekskill Meteorite and Fireball: Paper detailing the characteristics of the Peekskill impactor and it’s flight characteristics, at the University of Regina.
- The Spaceguard foundation: An umbrella organization to loosely coordinate projects searching space for earth approaching asteroids.
- The B612 Foundation: A group of scientists and engineers proposing an actual “field test” of asteroid deflection techniques.