"Meteorite" that struck French woman was normal terrestrial rock, say scientists

A French woman's claim that she was struck, and bruised, in the ribs by a meteorite was debunked by experts, who have identified it as an ordinary Earth rock. The woman from Schirmeck, Bas-Rhin, said she was hit with the rock early on July 6.


"I heard a big 'poom' coming from the roof next to us. In the second that followed, I felt a shock in the ribs. I thought it was an animal, a bat," the woman told the French newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (DNA). "We thought it was a piece of cement, the one we apply to the ridge tiles, but it didn't have the color."

Experts analyzing the rock noted its sharp angles and bubbled surface are inconsistent with meteorites, which typically have smooth surfaces due to atmospheric heat and melting.

François Colas from the Fireball Recovery and InterPlanetary Observation Network (FRIPON) also pointed out the lack of roof damage and the absence of meteor flashes recorded on that day, further challenging the claim. Meteorite falls on Earth are rare, and the chances of being hit by one are incredibly slim, further cementing the conclusion that the rock was terrestrial in origin.

[Observatoire de Paris astronomer Jeremie] Vaubaillon calculates that the chances of a person being hit by a meteorite are about 1 in 100 trillion. And that tiny probability should be quite a relief. The astronomer also explained what it would be like to be directly struck by a meteorite. 

"It would hurt!" he said. "It depends on the rock size, but they fall from high altitude, and their speed stabilizes at around 190 miles per hour. Imagine you are hit by a rock while driving at such speed. This would hurt you a lot."