Washington, Feb 10: Scientists at the US space agency SA have discounted reports that an Indian bus driver in Tamil du was killed by a meteorite, saying he was likely hit by a land based explosion. Online photographs of the site of the suspected meteorite hit in a college campus on Saturday were more consistent with “a land based explosion” than with something from space, the New York Times reported Tuesday citing SA scientists.
Early reports included images of a crater, five feet deep and two feet wide. Witnesses described hearing an explosion, and police recovered a black, pockmarked stone from the site in Vellore district of Tamil du.
Lindley Johnson, SA’s planetary defence officer, told the US daily in an email that a death by meteorite impact was so rare that one has never been scientifically confirmed in recorded history.
“There have been reports of injuries, but even those were extremely rare before the Chelyabinsk event three years ago,” she said, referring to a 2013 episode in Russia.
In addition, meteorites are often cool to the touch when they land, and the object recovered from the site in India weighed only a few grams and appeared to be a fragment of a common earth rock. The US daily also cited a scientist at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics which is alysing samples of the rock provided by the police as doubting if it was a meteorite.
“Considering that there was no prediction of a meteorite shower and there was no meteorite shower observed, this certainly is a rare phenome if it is a meteorite,” professor G.C. Anupama, the dean of the institute, told the daily over telephone. Deaths and injuries by meteorites are tracked by the Intertiol Comet Quarterly, which notes the locations and sizes of meteorites. Some smash through houses, kill animals and spatter buildings. But deaths have been hard to confirm, the Times said. (IANS)