It was almost midnight in Golden, British Columbia, Canada, a Rocky Mountain city near the border with Alberta, when a meteorite crashed through the roof and landed next to the head of 66-year-old grandma Ruth Hamilton.
According to numerous reports, Hamilton had been asleep for hours on October 3rd, when her dog barked twice and a softball-sized chunk of space stuff came crashing through her roof, spraying drywall debris all over her face and landing on her pretty floral bedding.
"I've never been so frightened in my life," the sexagenarian told Canadian politician and radio host Jas Johal.
Hamilton called 911 and police visited to assess the situation. Early assessments focused on a nearby highway construction site as the source of the rock, but blasting had not occurred at the time when the rock arrived.
Locals had, however, seen an explosion in the sky – probably the meteor shower seen from Lake Louise, 56km from Hamilton's home. A photo of a meteor over Lake Louise made NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day nine days later.
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Hamilton contacted Western University in London, Ontario, home to the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration.
Institute boffins came by to collect the rock and confirmed it is a meteorite, likely from the solar system's main asteroid belt. The scientists are asking anyone who has footage of the fireball to contact them.
Hamilton is going to get the rock back when the boffins are done with it, and her insurance company has agreed to cover meteorite damage.
Hamilton told radio host Jas Johal she Googled the odds of being hit by falling space rocks and found she had a one in four trillion chance of her house being singled out.
But she's not alone in being so lucky. Back in 2016, an Indian bus driver was sadly standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and is believed to have been killed by a meteorite – the first recorded fatality of its kind in 200 years.
In 2020, an Indonesian man had a 2kg meteorite crash through the roof of his home. That story has a happy ending as the man was able to sell the rock, although for much less than he originally anticipated.
According to NASA, any space rock smaller than 25 metres is likely to burn up when it enters Earth's atmosphere. Anything larger will likely cause local damage, which does happen. Every 2000 years or so, a meteorite the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage.
NASA plans to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test on November 24, 2021. The mission will crash a space probe into double asteroid Didymos to see if it deflects its course, thereby establishing the feasibility of employing similar actions in the future as a means of planetary defence from near-Earth objects. Bruce Willis will be relieved. ®