Lisa Webber of Novato, California, was sitting in her house one evening last week when something fell out of the sky and hit her roof. Evidently, lots of things fall out of the sky and hit rooftops in northern California because she didn’t bother to check it out or think much of it until she read a story in the paper the next day. It reported a large meteor soared down over that part of the state, exploding into a giant fireball and very likely sending meteorite bits and pieces all over the place.
That’s when it hit her.
No, not a meteorite. It hit her that she might know what hit her roof. So she went looking in her backyard. And found this:
Fascinating. Rocks that fall to Earth from way, way out in outer space look surprisingly like … rocks in my backyard. Maybe I live on another planet. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, not only did Lisa find this otherwordly-looking specimen in her yard, but one of her neighbors climbed up on her roof and found this:
Remarkable. They don’t make houses in California that stand up during earthquakes, but they do build them strong enough to repel fallout crashlanding from another galaxy.
So, here is Webber, standing in her backyard, holding what she thinks is a midget meteorite and looking at what she knows is a dent in her shingles. Now what?
Exactly – good educated guess on your part. She contacted Peter Jenniskens, head of the CAMS (Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance) project, which is jointly run by NASA and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. I mean, what else would she do?
Of course it also helped that the CAMS project put out a public call for information on possible meteorite sightings soon after the fireball.
“I wasn’t sure at first,” Jenniskens said after examining Webber’s rock. “The meteorite looks very unusual, because much of the fusion crust had come off.”
Yeah, I noticed that too.
But, fusion crust or no fusion crust, this rock ain’t fooling someone who heads up Allsky Meteor Surveillance. Jenniskens knows his space chunks and identified the rock as a meteorite. The stone, he reports, is dense and responds to a magnet, although scientists recommend not bringing magnets near suspected meteorites to avoid disrupting their natural magnetic fields.
No, I’m not making this up. I’m not that good.
So, Lisa’s happy, Jennisken’s happy, Lisa’s neighbor still is up on the roof and this planet has one more meteorite.
Meanwhile, on the dark side of the moon, idling in Park after passing over Earth after traveling here from another universe far, far away …
“Yes, Commander Utstitzagarv, what is it?”
“Ischak, I’m sitting here, watching the noon news on CNN (Celestial News Network) and what am I looking at right now?”
“Hmmmm … looks like a woman talking to a reporter, holding a rock.”
“Oh, not just any rock, Ischak. She says it’s a meteorite, that it fell out of the sky last night and hit her roof …”
“Wow, strange things sure do happen on Earth, hey sir?”
“Ischak, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a millennium times … DON’T FLUSH when we’re passing over inhabited planets!”
“I know sir, but it just seems so unsanitary to just leave it floating there …”
“Well, you do have a point there. It is kind of funny how these Earth people get so excited about our droppings. Not very intelligent beings, are they now? Say, how long has it been since we emptied the kitty litter, Ischak?”
“Oh, a couple of light years at least.”
“Great! What do you say we swing over their dark side tonight and give the dopes a meteor shower!”