April 10, 2024

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Woman Hit by a Meteorite While Having a Coffee With a Friend

Woman Hit by a Meteorite While Having a Coffee With a Friend

A woman in France recently enjoying coffee with her friend was struck by a small meteorite in what is considered an extremely rare event, according to local news.

The woman was chatting with her friend outside on a terrace when she was hit in the ribs by a mysterious pebble, French newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) reported.

“I heard a big ‘Poom’ coming from the roof next to us. In the second that followed, I felt a shock on the ribs. I thought it was an animal, a bat!” the woman, who has not been identified, told the news outlet. “We thought it was a piece of cement, the one we apply to the ridge tiles. But it didn’t have the color.”

Meteorites are “space rocks” that survive their journey thought the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground. These objects—known as meteoroids when they are in space—range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.

Woman Hit by a Meteorite While Having a Coffee With a Friend
A stock image of meteoroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere. A woman in France was struck by a meteorite while having coffee with a friend.
iStock / Getty Images

Meteoroids originate from other larger bodies—primarily asteroids, but also the moon and other planets like Mars. Meteoroids can be rocky, metallic, or a combination of the two.

Most meteoroids disintegrate completely as they speed through the Earth’s atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. Of those that do make it to the ground in some form, typically only a small percentage of the original object survives. 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 is a resident of the commune of Schirmeck in the northeast of the country, took it to a roofer for examination. The roofer told her that it was not made from cement but that it looked like a meteorite. She then showed the mysterious object to geologist Thierry Rebmann.

The geologist told DNA that the rock appeared to contain a mixture of iron and silicon, and could be a meteorite. In total, all the pieces of the meteorite that have been recovered have a total mass of almost 4 ounces. Rebmann said the phenomenon of people being struck by such objects is extremely rare.

Almost 50 tons of meteoritic material is estimated to fall to Earth every day, according to NASA. But most of this is extremely small and the majority falls into the oceans, which cover around 70 percent of the planet’s surface.

When found on land, it is difficult to distinguish meteorites from normal 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, in our temperate environments to find them,” Rebmann said. “They merge with other elements. On the other hand, in a desert environment, we can find them more easily.”

Incidents of people purportedly being struck by meteorites have appeared throughout history, but there has often been a lack of evidence to back up these claims.

The first confirmed case of a meteorite directly striking a person occurred in the United States almost 70 years ago.

This case involved Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, who was struck by an 8-pound stony meteorite that crashed through her roof in November 1954. The impact left her with severe bruising.