Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quirky Rock Out of Space Part 2

^The hand of a Miskatonic Professor?^

^Eerily what a scene might look like out of modern day Arkham^

^Old Ammi's neighborhood?^

^Its colour ! ... Ia! Great Shoggoths !! ... its colour !^
(Press release in comments)
(Update: Reading through reports, it came to me that this wouild be great folklore research. Each news story spun the story in a slightly different way - some releasing some information, others different bits. I attached several articles - feel free to add your local news story. It will be a great study to see how an innocuous story propagates)


Chris Perridas said...

Object That Slammed Home Is a Meteorite
By KAREEM FAHIM, The New York Times
(Jan. 6) - It was not from the neighborhood.
The object that tore through the roof of a house in the New Jersey suburbs this week was an iron meteorite, perhaps billions of years old and maybe ripped from the belly of an asteroid, experts who examined it said yesterday.
Tentatively named “Freehold Township” for the place where it landed — and ruined a second-floor bathroom — the meteorite is only the second found in New Jersey, said Jeremy S. Delaney, a Rutgers University expert who examined it.
“It’s a pretty exciting find,” said Dr. Delaney, who has examined thousands of meteorites. He said that the first New Jersey meteorite was found in 1829, in the seaside town of Deal.
The meteorite now belongs to the family whose house it ended up in, said Lt. Robert Brightman of the Freehold Township Police Department, adding that they had asked not to be identified.
The family has not yet given permission for physical testing of the meteorite, but from looking at it, Dr. Delaney and other experts were able to tell that the object it had been part of — perhaps an asteroid — cooled relatively fast.
It is magnetic, and reasonably dense, they determined. The leading edge — the one that faced forward as it traveled through the earth’s atmosphere — was much smoother, while the so-called trailing edge seemed to have caught pieces of molten metal.
In fact, Mr. Delaney said, it seemed very similar to another meteorite fragment, the Ahnighito, now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.
"This little guy is a lot like it," he said. "It’s a good candidate for the core of an asteroid."
And the scientists are hoping that the owners of the “Freehold Township” will make it available for testing and public viewing, like the Ahnighito, a 34-ton chunk of the Cape York meteorite found in Greenland.
Or, they could sell it.
"The worth of a meteorite like this is almost completely determined by where it fell,” said Eric Twelker, a geologist and a dealer in meteorites, who buys and sells perhaps a hundred of them a month on, his Web site. He was speaking of the premium placed on meteorites with a compelling back story, like the football-size rock that crashed into a parked Chevrolet in Peekskill, N.Y., in 1992.
Copyright © 2007 The New York Times Company

Chris Perridas said...

Another news release ...

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A metallic rock that smashed through the roof of a home in New Jersey was a meteorite, authorities said on Friday.

The small, oblong rock, weighing 13 ounces (377 grams), crashed into a home in Freehold Township, 50 miles south of New York, on Tuesday evening and was embedded in the wall on the top floor of the two-story house.

Lt. Robert Brightman, of Freehold Township police, said in a statement that a team of geologists from New Jersey State University Rutgers and an independent metallurgist had examined the object.

"The team has determined the meteorite is very metal-rich, and possibly represents the deep interior of an asteroid. Its coloration, markings, density and magnetic properties are characteristic of an iron meteorite," Brightman said.

He said the meteorite would provisionally be named "Freehold Township," pending approval from an international committee.

Chris Perridas said...

Philadelphia Inquirer

A New Jersey mystery solved. Meteorite-like object identified - as meteoriteAssociated Press
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - A metallic, rocklike object that crashed through the roof of a home here was a meteorite, experts said yesterday.

The announcement ended three days of mystery that began when the dense object - about the size of a golf ball but weighing around 13 ounces, as much as a can of soup - was discovered by the homeowner Tuesday night.

Rutgers University geologists Jeremy Delaney, Gail Ashley and Claire Condie, and Peter Elliott, an independent metallurgist who studied the object, determined it was an iron meteorite because of its density, magnetic properties, markings and coloration.

For now, scientists are calling the object "Freehold Township."

It belongs to the family whose home was hit, but it is being kept for now in a secure location, according to Freehold Township police. Police have not released the name of the homeowner or identified the neighborhood where the home is located.

Chris Perridas said...

Asbury Park Press

Scientists: What struck house was a meteorite

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 01/6/07

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The mysterious object that shot through the roof of a two-story home earlier this week was identified by scientists as a meteorite, police said Friday.

But the fate of the extraterrestrial mass, likely formed with the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago, has emerged as another unknown in the case of the second known meteorite to fall in New Jersey.

Its new owners, a married couple with a son, expressed some interest in putting the meteorite on a small-scale tour so local schoolchildren could see it, said Jeremy Delaney, a Rutgers University meteoriticist who was among four scientists who identified the object for police and later met the family.

Eventually the family will have to decide whether to keep the meteorite, give it to an academic institution such as a museum or sell it to a collector.

What's for sure is that the object will be in high demand.

Rarely on landings do meteorites come in contact with people. So when they do, the space artifacts are connected with a story that generates interest all around.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., both of which have extensive meteorite collections, likely will have interest, Delaney said.

Depending on the rarity of a given meteorite, researchers sometimes spend several years looking at the same chunk that fell from space.

"By looking at these objects, we have the ability to explore our deep, deep past," Delaney said. "Meteorites have given scientists clues about life on Mars and the rest of our solar system."

New Jersey's only other known meteorite, weighing an ounce, fell in Deal in 1829.

The precise research value of New Jersey's newest meteorite won't be known unless it ends up in the hands of scientists who would study its composition.

But Delaney said the Freehold meteorite might be of some interest to researchers because it is rich in metals, a sign that it came from the deep interior of an asteroid.

"We all want to know where it's from and you won't get that until you do some analysis," said Peter Elliott, a Colts Neck metallurgist who also helped identify the meteorite.

Its magnetic properties, color, texture and high density convinced scientists within a few minutes of inspecting it that it was a meteorite.

When the meteorite began to shoot through the Earth's atmosphere Tuesday afternoon, it likely was the size of a football, but then it quickly lost mass as its metals burned and melted on entry, Delaney said.

By the time it hit the house, the object was 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches and weighed about 13 ounces. Despite its relatively small size, the meteorite was able to puncture the shingled roof in the Colts Pride development because it likely was traveling at the speed of sound, Delaney said.

It appeared to have hit the home about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when the mother of the household heard a noise, according to an account given to police by the family.

That night, her adult son found the meteorite embedded in a bathroom wall on the second floor, where it came to rest after bouncing off the tile floor.

On Thursday, the four scientists met at police headquarters with magnets and magnifying lenses to inspect the object. They reached a consensus about 10 minutes later and named it "Freehold Township."

Scientists customarily name meteorites after the place where they landed. But neither the name nor the meteorite designation will become scientifically official until the local findings are reviewed by the Natural History Museum in London, which holds a world catalog of meteorites, Delaney said.

Citing their respect for privacy, neither the police nor the scientists would disclose the names of the family members who now own an object from outer space.

Chris Perridas said...


Is This Thing a Meteorite?
How to tell if a rock fell from outer space.
By Melonyce McAfee
Posted Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, at 5:57 PM ET

A golf-ball-sized metallic object crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home and lodged in a wall on Tuesday evening. Officials at the FAA said it was not material from an aircraft, and geologists will test the object to determine if it's a meteorite. How can you tell if a rock fell from outer space?

First, look at it. A freshly fallen meteorite will have a smooth coating of black or dark brown fusion crust. The coating forms as it enters the Earth's atmosphere, when the outer layer of rock begins to melt. This can result in thumbprintlike indentations (called regmaglypts) on the surface of the meteorite; the subsequent cooling-off often produces a set of cracks in the fusion crust. (Experts say the object found in New Jersey looks like it might have a fusion crust.)

Next, pick it up. Meteorites are denser than regular rocks and feel heavier than they look. The New Jersey object reportedly weighs as much as a can of soup, even though it's the size of a golf ball. You can also try running a magnet over the object—most kinds of meteorites will attract it.

Then, send it to a lab. Geologists can run more sophisticated tests on the object, depending on what kind of meteorite they think it is. Generally, there are two kinds of meteorites—rocky and iron. Rocky meteorites are more common, and most contain chondrules—tiny spheres of formerly molten silicate minerals. A test using X-ray diffraction can help to identify these minerals in a mysterious object. Some materials—like quartz—aren't likely to turn up in a rocky meteorite.

If the geologists think they've got a metallic meteorite, they might test for high levels of iron, along with other metals like nickel, platinum, and gold. (If any man-made alloys turn up you can be sure it's a rock from Earth.) A Widmanst├Ątten pattern test, which involves polishing the meteorite then etching it with acid, may reveal a crosshatching of nickel and iron patterns that is unique to meteorites. A mass spectrometer is used to determine isotope ratios in the meteorite—which may differ from those in a terrestrial rock.

Not everything that looks like a meteorite turns out to be the real deal. Objects often mistaken for meteorites include bits of space debris that melted as they re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, as well as a range of objects like deformed industrial grinding balls and plain old chunks of sedimentary rock.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Haldan Cohn and Nelson Shaffer of the University of Indiana, and Carlton Pryor of Rutgers University.

Chris Perridas said...


Experts Confirm Meteorite Struck N.J. Home

11:01 p.m. EST January 5, 2007
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - A determination has been made on the origin of the object that fell from the sky and into a house in Central New Jersey this week, and it was indeed extra-terrestrial. A team of Rutgers geologists said Friday it was a meteorite.

It was only the second meteorite ever found in New Jersey, the first one having fallen in 1829, experts said.

The golf-ball-sized meteorite crashed through the roof of a Freehold Township home Tuesday night.

Geologists said it is very metal-rich and possibly came from the interior of an asteroid. Its markings, coloration, density and magnetic properties are characteristic of an iron meteorite.

For now, scientists are calling the object "Freehold Township."

It belongs to the family whose home was hit, but it is being kept for now in a secure location, according to Freehold Township police.

Police have not released the name of the homeowner nor identified the neighborhood where the home is located.

Chris Perridas said...

Boston Online

Scientists believe meteorite hit house
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP -- A mysterious rocklike object that crashed through the roof of a home and landed in the bathroom was a meteorite, specialists said yesterday. For now, scientists are calling the dense metallic object "Freehold Township" after the place where it fell. It is about the size of a golf ball but weighs about 13 ounces, as much of a can of soup. Magnets held near it are attracted to it. Rutgers University geologists determined it was an iron meteorite because of its density, magnetic properties, markings, and coloration. (AP)

Chris Perridas said...

Reuters Jan 4

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Authorities were investigating on Thursday if a metallic rock that smashed through the roof of a home in New Jersey was a meteorite.

The small, oblong rock, weighing 13 ounces (377 grams), crashed into a home in Freehold Township, 50 miles south of New York, on Tuesday evening and was embedded in the wall on the top floor of the two-story house.

"The woman living in the home heard an unusual sound," said Lt. Robert Brightman, of Freehold Township police, adding that the woman's son then discovered the rock in the wall of bathroom and contacted police on Wednesday.

"It went through two layers of shingles, a layer of plywood sheathing, the insulation, the Sheetrock ceiling, damaged the tile floor and bounced up into the Sheetrock in the side wall," he said.

Reuters Pictures

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Authorities were planning to investigate what the object was, including the possibility it could be a meteorite.

Brightman said the Federal Aviation Authority concluded that the object was not an airplane part. He said other experts were due to look at the object on Thursday but declined to name what agencies they represented.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Perridas said...

Earthtimes from UPI release

FREEHOLD, N.J., Jan. 6 The mysterious object that came through the roof of a house in New Jersey, gutting a second-floor bathroom, was a meteorite, experts said Friday.

Jeremy Delaney of Rutgers University told The New York Times the meteorite, which has been christened Freehold Township in honor of the town where it landed, is only the second known to have hit the state. The other was found in Deal, a coastal resort near Freehold, in 1829.

The owners of the house where the meteorite landed -- and thus the owners of the meteorite -- have asked not to be publicly identified, Freehold police said. They have also not authorized physical testing of the rock, although Delaney and other experts have been able to look at it.

Delaney said it resembles Ahnighito, a meteorite from Greenland that is now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.

This little guy is a lot like it, he said. It's a good candidate for the core of an asteroid.

Copyright 2007 by UPI

Chris Perridas said...

National Geographic

January 5, 2007—It looks like a shiny lump of fool's gold, and it certainly has authorities fooled as to just what it is.

This metallic rocklike object crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home on January 2, ripping through the ceiling and ricocheting off a tiled bathroom floor before lodging in a wall.

No one was hurt by the impact, but local detectives trying to identify the mysterious debris may have their professional egos a little bruised.

"I've never seen anything like it in my career," Lt. Robert Brightman of the Freehold Township Police Department told the Associated Press at a press conference yesterday.

Experts from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have already inspected the 13-ounce (0.4 kilogram) lump and determined that it is not a stray airplane part.

Another test found that the object is not radioactive, although it does appear to be magnetic.

Some astronomers have speculated that that the object could be a meteorite, since the Quadrantid meteor shower occurs annually in early January.

But meteor showers typically involve small particles of icy rock, not big metal chunks, so if the mass is a meteorite, it's likely an unusual one.

Other theories have suggested that the lump is a tool lost by an astronaut or flotsam from an orbiting satellite that melted as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

Brightman said scientists are currently testing the object and hope to have results by the end of the week.

—Blake de Pastino

Chris Perridas said...

New York Daily News

What on Earth?

N.J. unidentified falling object may be meteorite


It came from above - and crashed down in New Jersey.
A metallic, oblong object tore through the roof of a house in Freehold Township on Tuesday, mystifying the family living there and perplexing authorities, who could not immediately say where it came from.

Scientists were eager to examine the golden, rocklike lump, which measures about 21/2 inches by 1 inch and weighs 13 ounces - about the same as a soup can.

Federal aviation officials said the rough-feeling object wasn't from a plane, and police said it wasn't radioactive. "When you put a magnet up to it, it sticks," said Lt. Bob Brightman of the Freehold Township Police - a clue experts said could indicate it's a meteorite.

Brightman declined to identify the residents who found the object, saying only that they are an older couple that lives in the two-story house with their son.

The mother told cops she heard "an unusual sound" about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, police said.

Her son found the object that night in an upstairs bathroom, where it damaged some tiles before embedding itself in the wall. The family called the cops yesterday.

The object's metallic glint "helps to make the case" that it's an iron meteorite that broke away from an asteroid belt and traveled for thousands of years to Earth, said Denton Ebel, curator of the meteorite collection at the American Museum of Natural History.

But he noted that its gold color "does not look like a meteor," which is normally gray.

"The most useful test would be to scratch it. It should be very hard, like stainless steel," Ebel said.

If the object is a meteorite, its falling to the ground likely would have caused a sonic boom, said Don Brownlee, a professor of astronomy at the University of Washington.

"But [the sonic boom] may arrive later than the actual impact," Brownlee said.

Geologists were intrigued by the object and said its composition must be examined to determine whether it was extraterrestrial or manmade.

Meteors are usually named for the location where they're found and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars from collectors.

Originally published on January 4, 2007


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