A crater caused by a meteorite that is said to have killed a 40-year-old man in southern India.
NO ONE HAS NOT HEARD THE PHRASE ‘YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING HIT BY LIGHTNING ARE GREATER’ – OR SOME VARIATION ON THAT THEME. SUBSTITUTE ‘HIT BY LIGHTENING’ BY ‘KILLED BY A METEORITE’. IMAGINE THE ODDS.
A man in India, probably the first in the roughly 108 billion people ever born, was killed by a meteorite a few days ago (on Saturday, Feb. 6) because he was, most assuredly, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Had he actually been hit by the heaven-sent rock, Mr. V. Kamaraj, who operated a bus for a college in southern India, no doubt would have set a record – only meteorite-struck person – that would survive . . . well, a good deal longer than he, or all living before him, collectively did.
India RealTime, a service of the Wall Street Journal, says, “An unidentified object left a four-feet deep crater after falling near a cafeteria inside the Bharathidasan Engineering College campus at about 12.30 p.m. on Saturday, G. Baskar, principal of the college in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, said.
“There was a noise like a big explosion,” said Mr. Baskar. “It was an abnormal sound that could be heard till at least 3 kilometers [about 2 miles] away,” he added.
Two miles and a great many more years: This would, India’s WSJ said, “be the first time in modern history that a person has been killed by a meteorite.”
“The powerful explosion smashed the windows of classrooms and the windshields of vehicles parked in the vicinity, India’s WSJ said. “Students at the college were immediately sent home and classes were suspended until Wednesday.”
Tragic as this is/was, why did the school deem it necessary to give students two days to emotionally recover and be up to studying again?
Mr. Baskar described the tiny rock fragments observed at the site of the explosion on Saturday as “blue-ish black” in color.
The WSJ report said that J. Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s chief minister, said in a statement Sunday that Mr. Kamaraj died after a meteorite fell inside the college campus. She didn’t elaborate on what led authorities to believe the crater was caused by a meteorite. A spokesman for Ms. Jayalalithaa’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by India’s Wall Street Journal.
A meteoroid is a small particle from an asteroid or comet that goes around the sun. When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere it burns up, often seen as the light phenomenon known as a shooting star. A meteorite is a meteoroid that survives entry into the atmosphere and falls to Earth.
Sujan Sengupta, an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said there was “extremely little possibility of a small meteorite falling to the ground” and killing someone.
“If a bigger asteroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it will disintegrate and travel in different directions and because most of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, it is most likely to fall into the ocean,” Mr. Sengupta said.
According to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, there is no record “in modern times of any person being killed by a meteorite.”
“An individual’s chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid,” NASA says on its website. A meteoroid larger than half a mile in diameter could have worldwide effects. If something smaller than that hits the Earth, it is likely to cause local damage.
The space agency’s “Near Earth Object Program” detects, tracks and characterizes potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that might approach Earth. As of Feb. 5, NASA says it has discovered 879 asteroids with a diameter of approximately a kilometer or larger. Experts say smaller asteroids and meteorites are harder, if not impossible, to track.
In 2013, a meteor explosion over Russia’s Ural Mountains left around 1,000 people injured, mostly by flying glass. Around 3,000 buildings were damaged. Russia’s Academy of Sciences said at the time that the meteor was several yards in diameter and weighed around 10 metric tons.
Ms. Jayalalithaa, the chief minister, announced compensation of 100,000 rupees ($1,473) for the family of the driver and 25,000 rupees to each of those injured.