Death by meteorite? NASA’s denial and 10 facts

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WikiImages / Pixabay

WikiImages / Pixabay Representative image

Time: around 12.30 pm (local time)

Place: Bharathidasan Engineering College (BEC)

Geographical location: K. Bandarapalli at Nattrampalli in Vellore district of South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Scientists across the world shook up to the news of a man being killed by a meteorite in Vellore.

Once the cause of death is proven, bus driver Kamaraj would be the first person to be killed in a meteorite strike post a similar incident in 1825 that took place in India’s Thar region, as per NASA records.

While Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa confirmed the incident as a meteorite strike, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the blast was man-made.

In her statement, Jayalalithaa on February 7 said, “The mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district’s K Pantharappalli village.”

She also announced a compensation of Rs.1 lakh to Kamaraj’s family.

However, NASA said the death was not due to a meteorite.

In a statement emailed to, NASA said: “Initial assessments, based on photos posted online, are not consistent with something from space…Small meteorites do not start fires or cause explosions when they hit the ground.”

Meanwhile, National College Instrumentation Facility (NCIF) in Trichy claimed that the blast samples are fragments of a meteorite as they contain “carbonaceous chondrites”.

While the debate is still on, let us check out 10 interesting facts about meteorites:

1. A meteorite is a chunk of space rock, mostly from an asteroid or a comet, that survives its impact with the Earth’s surface unlike a meteor that burns up while passing through the atmosphere.

2. Meteorites are either stony meteorites, chondrites, achondrites, iron meteorites, stony-iron meteorites, or tektites.

3. It is illegal to buy or sell meteorite pieces in South Africa.

4. Every year approximately 500 meteorites fall on the Earth’s surface.

5. Of them, scientists can only recover five or six of them for study.

6. As per a study by Nature in 1985, a meteorite strikes a human once every 180 years.

“With Ann Hodges the only confirmed person to be hit by a meteorite in 1954, that means the next time somebody will be hit by a meteorite is 2134 – an average of .0055 per year,” claims The Planets.

7. Some of the most famous meteorites are the Allende, the Fukang, Hoba, and the Willamette Meteorite.

8. A meteorite which is seen landing on Earth is called “falls”.

9. A meteorite that is discovered much after it hits the Earth surface is calls “finds”.

10. German physicist Ernst Florens Chladni was the first man to claim that meteorites were rocks from space. His idea was then considered to be audacious.

Big Wire

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