A woman in France who was enjoying coffee with her friend recently was hit by a small meteorite in what is considered an extremely rare occurrence, according to local news.
Woman was chatting with her friend outside on the balcony when she was hit by a mysterious pebble in her ribs, French newspaper reports Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) reported.
“I heard a ‘boom’ coming from the roof next to us. The second that followed, I felt a thud on the ribs. I thought it was an animal, a bat!” The woman, who was not identified, told the news outlet. “We thought it was a piece of cement, the one we apply on hillside tiles. But it didn’t have the color.”
Meteorites are “space rocks” that survive their journey through the Earth’s atmosphere and crash into the Earth. These objects – known as meteors when in space – range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
Meteorites originate from other, larger bodies – mainly asteroids, but also the Moon and other planets such as Mars. Meteorites can be stony, metallic, or a combination of the two.
Most meteors disintegrate completely as they speed through Earth’s atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. Of those who reach Earth in some form, usually only a small percentage of the original being remains. When meteorites are found, they tend to range between the size of a pebble and a fist.
After being struck by the rock, the French woman, who resides in the municipality of Shermek in the northeast of the country, took her to a roofer for examination. The bishop told her that it was not made of cement but looked like a meteorite. Then I showed the mysterious object to geologist Thierry Repmann.
The geologist told DNA that the rock contains a mixture of iron and silicon, and could be a meteorite. In total, the total mass of all the meteorite pieces recovered is about 4 ounces. The phenomenon of people bumping into such things is extremely rare, Reibman said.
It is estimated that approximately 50 tons of meteorite material falls to Earth each day, according to NASA. But most of this is very small and the majority is located in the oceans, which cover about 70 percent of the planet’s surface.
When found on Earth, it is difficult to distinguish meteorites from regular Earth rocks by appearance alone. In some places, such as sandy or icy deserts, these space rocks can be easier to spot.
“It’s very rare to find them in our temperate environments,” Reibman said. “It blends with other elements. On the other hand, in a desert environment, we can find it more easily.”
Incidents of people allegedly being hit by meteorites have appeared throughout history, but evidence to support these claims has often been lacking.
The first confirmed case of a meteor directly hitting a person occurred in the United States nearly 70 years ago.
This case concerned Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, who was hit by an 8-pound rock meteorite that crashed through her roof in November 1954. The impact left her with severe bruising.