The meteorite blamed for causing illness in a village in Peru after its collision with Earth Sept. 15, 2007 acted in ways "completely inconsistent with our understanding how stony meteorites act, according to Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown University, who was to present his findings Tuesday at the 39th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.
The Peruvian meteorite was traveling at an estimated 15,000 mph when it struck the earth, and it left a crater 49-feet-wide and sent debris flying as far as four lengths of a football field. It struck a dry riverbed near the village of Carancas.
What was odd about the meteorite? According to Brown University:
It apparently didn't lose speed from atmospheric friction, despite being a stony meteorite. Conventional wisdom says that this type of meteorite will be ripped to pieces and fall as dust.
Normally with a small object like this, the atmosphere slows it down, and it becomes the equivalent of a bowling ball dropping into the ground, Schultz said. It would make a hole in the ground, like a pit, but not a crater. But this meteorite kept on going at a speed about 40 to 50 times faster than it should have been going.
Because it was traveling so fast, any fragments that broke apart were swept along in the meteor's fireball "shock wave" barrier, reforming into a shape possibly as aerodynamic as a football hurtling down from on high.
It became very streamlined and so it penetrated the Earths atmosphere more efficiently, Schultz said.
If Schultz's theory of the Peruvian meteorite proves true, it could re-write conventional thinking about how some of Earth's lakes formed, or how some of the craters on Mars formed.
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