[meteorite-list] Illinois Meteorite Strike in Doubt

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 13:31:51 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <200703092131.l29LVpl20319_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Illinois meteorite strike in doubt

A palm-sized piece of metallic debris that punched a hole in a
Bloomington, Illinois, home may be wood-chipper debris.

Daniel Pendick
Astronomy Magazine
March 9, 2007

Help wanted. Homeowners in Bloomington, Illinois, seeking carpenter and
cabinetmaker with experience in repair of meteorite damage.

Or...Anybody know a good lawyer?

The alleged "meteorite" that smashed through a window Monday, March 12,
at the home of David and Dee Riddle of 25 Partner Place, Bloomington,
may be a chunk of ordinary steel plate spit out of an industrial
wood-chipper about 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the Riddle home,
according to James Day, a geology professor at Illinois State University
who examined the reputed space rock. "We have our suspicions this may
not be a legitimate meteorite."

Indeed, even as CNN broadcasts its report on the incident on
international television, meteorite experts were already puzzling over
the alleged meteorite's odd features. "I've seen some pictures of this
alleged meteorite and based on the photograph alone, I am a bit dubious
about its origin as a meteorite," says Meenakshi Wadhwa, geology
professor and director of the Center for Meteorite Studies
at Arizona State University in Tempe.

For example, Wadhwa told Astronomy in an e-mail, there is a "strange
looking transition between what looks like a shinier surface and a
somewhat rusty looking patch, as well as the very flat right edge of the
object." A fresh meteorite, even if it contained iron, would not be rusty.

"Having said that, however, photographs can be misleading and I would
not venture to say anything definitive simply based on a single
photograph," she adds.

Day said the reputed meteorite needs to undergo laboratory testing to
determine that it was, indeed, a fresh meteorite that fell from space.

Wadhwa explains that certain key features could distinguish the object
as a meteorite: whether it has a "fusion crust" from its surface being
heated from friction with the atmosphere, and whether a magnet attracts
it, indicating the presence of iron.

Wadhwa also notes, "If it is a fresh fall, I would also say that I would
not expect it to show any rust ??? any metal present should look pretty

Laboratory tests could also determine if the object contains nickel,
which metallic meteorites typically contain.
Received on Fri 09 Mar 2007 04:31:51 PM PST

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