Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quirky Rock Out Of Space Part 1

Shades of Colour Out of Space. For those who have not followed the story - and for the archives - here is the continuing story.

Experts are still trying to figure out what exactly crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home Tuesday and embedded itself in a wall. The mysterious golf ball-sized metal object (pictured) has magnetic properties and weighs about as much as a can of soup. Some experts have speculated the object is a nickel-iron meteorite. Allan H. Treiman, senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, remains skeptical. That sure doesn't look like [meteorites] I've seen," said Treiman.

1 comment:

Chris Perridas said...

Full CBS story ...

(CBS/AP) FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. It's not a bird and it's not a plane. But authorities on Thursday were still trying to figure out what exactly crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home and embedded itself in a wall.

The metallic, rock-like object that punched through the roof Tuesday night is about the size of a golf ball and weighs as much as a can of soup. Federal officials quickly determined that it didn't come from an airplane.

In Freehold Township, where the house was struck, metals experts were at the police station on Thursday evening to study the rock, said Thomas Antus, the township administrator.

The owner of the house hit by the rock was notified that the rock was his property, Antus said.

Police said they had completed their investigation, but Lt. Robert Brightman said the results would not be made public. He declined to say why.

Antus said he hasn't seen so much attention toward the affluent, Monmouth County town in his 14 years in charge of local government.

"The fact that such worldwide attention was brought by a single event is astounding," Antus said.

The rough-feeling object struck the single-family, two-story home, went through the roof, damaged tiles on a bathroom floor below and then bounced, sticking into a wall.

The object was heavier than a usual metal object of that size, said Brightman, who added that no radioactivity was detected. Magnets held near the rock are attracted to it, he said.

Meanwhile, North American Aerospace Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly said Thursday there was no known connection between the New Jersey object and the remains of a Russian rocket that launched a French space telescope last month. The rocket's remains appeared as a fiery stream of meteors in the sky early Thursday.

At least one expert, examining pictures online, was skeptical whether the New Jersey object was really a meteorite.

Most meteorites get a black coating and a smooth surface while passing through the Earth's atmosphere, while the Freehold rock has a rough surface and a silvery sparkle, said Allan H. Treiman, senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

"That sure doesn't look like what I've seen," said Treiman, who's examined meteorites since the 1980s.

Approximately 20 to 50 rock-like objects fall to the Earth's surface every day, said Carlton Pryor, a professor of astronomy at Rutgers University.

"It's not all that uncommon to have rocks rain down from heaven," said Pryor, who had not seen the object that struck the Monmouth County home. "These are usually rocky or a mixture of rock and metal."

With much of the planet covered by water and uninhabited land, it's rare for a rock to hit a house, said Harry McSween, professor of planetary geoscience at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Given past stories of meteorite hits that gained notoriety, McSween said the Freehold family would likely be able to fetch "big bucks" for the object if it is a meteorite.

"If they were smart, they would cut out the section of the wall with the hole in it, sell it too," McSween said.

Officials have declined to identify the owners of the home or say exactly where it is located. Brightman has only said that a couple and their adult son live in the house in a township housing development.

(© 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. )


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