Alien rock causes cosmic disturbance in New Jersey home

Potential meteorite excites everyone but the insurance company

Residents of a home in New Jersey have been left shaken after a possible meteorite crashed through the roof, ricocheted off a hardwood floor, and dented the ceiling before coming to a rest.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the freak incident at a house on Old Washington Crossing Pennington Road, Hopewell Township, on Monday afternoon. The object appears to be metallic, measuring 4" by 6".

Owner Suzy Kop told a CBS affiliate that no one was at home at the time and said at first she believed someone had chucked a rock through the window.

"It appears whatever came from the sky fell through the roof of the top window; that's my dad's bedroom," she said.

Amid the debris and drywall, Kop found the object in the corner of the room.

"We are thinking it's a meteorite, came through here, hit the floor here because that's completely damaged, it ricocheted up to this part of the ceiling and then finally rested on the floor there."

"I did touch the thing because I thought it was a random rock, I don't know, and it was warm," she added.

Emergency services checked in on the family. "They were afraid that, you know, because it fell from the sky, was it radioactive? Could we have a type of residue on us? So they scanned us and everything came back clear."

"I thank God that my father was not here, no one was here, we weren't hurt or anything."

Cops reckon the impact might be related to the ongoing Eta Aquariids meteor shower that peaked last week, but then again they are cops.

Space rock boffin Derrick Pitts of Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Science Museum, on the other hand, commented: "My own personal belief is that this is just a happy coincidence. It just happens that the peak of the Aquariid shower was two days before this object was reported. People tend to draw conclusions like that."

He remarked that meteorites rarely hit homes, let alone populated areas. "Here's an instance where a sizable object has not only fallen in a populated region, it also hit a house and it was immediately collected by the occupants. The instance of that happening, you can count on one hand over the last 1,000 years, maybe."

But proper analysis needs to be performed on the object to determine its origins. "If you look at it, it does resemble what certain kinds of meteorites look like," Pitts said. "It stands as a strong possibility that that's what this could be."

If true, Pitts believes it could be four to five billion years old. "Pieces of space junk flying around, these things tend to be in the billions of years old. That's because this is trash leftover from the beginning of the solar system. This is junk that didn't get swept up into planets. A lot of this is dust and dirt and little bits of rock and some larger pieces of rock and asteroids."

Mike Hankey of the American Meteor Society wrote to Hopewell Township following the impact, asking residents to look out for more pieces. He said:

This is most certainly a meteorite and there are likely more meteorite fragments now scattered around the town. It would be good to get more eye witness accounts of those who saw or heard anything. We still do not have a firm estimate for the time of the fall. If we can exactly identify the time of the fall we can more effectively find evidence of it on weather radars and also video camera systems recording the sky. Any residents with doorbell cameras should check for events between 12-3 PM on May 8th. There could have been a flash in the sky and/or a boom sound recorded. All residents should be alert to look for black rocks on their properties.

The township also posted images of the object here.

The Planetary Science Institute says that about 500 meteorites are estimated to reach the surface of the Earth each year, but fewer than 10 are recovered because most fall in the ocean or remote areas. ®

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