Is That A Meteorite Streaking Past This Skydiver?

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Now this is a close shave. Back in 2012, a Norwegian skydiver came within inches of utter annihilation when an apparent meteorite whizzed past him. Amazingly, he caught the whole thing on camera.

For the impatient among you, go ahead and skip ahead to the 0:28 mark (for a real-time perspective) and the 0:36 mark (for slow motion). I've also created a pair of gifs:


Here's an interview with the skydiver (with English subtitles):

This is apparently the first time in history that a meteorite has been filmed by someone in the air so soon after its re-entry and subsequent plummet to Earth. The skydiver, Anders Helstrup, thought something weird had happened, so he reviewed the tape when he got home. That's when he saw what appeared to be a meteorite whizzing past him.


It's not entirely clear if this is a hoax, or if a more simpler explanation is in order. For instance, it's not uncommon for rocks or pebbles to get caught up in a parachute canopy when it's getting wrapped up. Also, the speed of the object doesn't seem quite right — though it's important to remember that Helstrup was descending and that the stone may have already reached its terminal velocity.

More from an NRK article (translation via Google Translate):

Although Helstrup is still not completely convinced that it was indeed a meteorite that flew past him, the experts are in no doubt.

"It can't be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites — a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded," said geologist Hans Amundsen.

He explained that the meteorite had been part of a larger stone that had exploded perhaps 20 kilometres above Helstrup.

Amundsen thinks he can make out coloured patches in the stone, and believes that in that case it may be a breccia — a common type of meteorite rock.


What do you think?

[ Via Digg via NRK ]