French Woman Hit by Apparent Meteorite While on Her Terrace

On July 6, a woman in the French town of Schirmeck was chatting with a friend on her terrace when she was struck by a small object. On further inspection, the black-and-gray concretion appeared to be a meteorite.

The news was first reported by Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace. According to The Weather Channel, the object struck the woman in the ribs with enough force to leave a bruise.

Experts told that the apparent meteorite was almost certainly of terrestrial origin, based on what meteorites look like after falling through the atmosphere and no reports of such an object falling over France.

If the women were hit by a meteorite, it would be one of the exceedingly rare instances of a meteorite striking a person—at least, one of the instances in which the person lived to confirm it happened. The most famous instance was in 1954, when a woman in Alabama was struck by a meteorite that fell through the roof of her home, leaving a massive bruise on her torso.

A quick breakdown of the vocabulary: meteorites are fallen bits of space rock and metal that have landed on Earth. Meteors are the falling bits of rock and metal. Asteroids are large chunks of rock and metal in space, which are often the source of Earth’s meteors.

It’s not rare that such material falls from space. In fact, last year a team of researchers estimated that over 5,000 tons of asteroid and comet dust falls to Earth every year. What’s relatively uncommon is that the material actually survives the fall; most larger masses disintegrate as they heat up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Earlier this year, a suspected meteorite crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home. In 2021, a rare meteorite landed on a driveway in the Cotswolds, in England. And in 2013—ten years ago already!—a meteorite fell in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, shattering windows and injuring hundreds, though no one was killed. The Chelyabinsk meteorite was the largest to fall to Earth this century.

Fallen meteorites can be billions of years old—i.e., they date to the formation of the solar system—and as such can be of scientific value, besides the extrinsic value they have when they’re occasionally auctioned.

What’s even rarer is that of all the places on Earth a meteor can land, it strikes a person. In 2020, researchers poring over archives of Ottoman Kurdistan found documentation suggesting a falling meteorite paralyzed one person and killed another in 1888.

As reported by Atlas Obscura at the time, those events “precede the famously massive Tunguska explosion of 1908, which may have killed two people, and are more evidence-based than a 1677 manuscript from Italy—which even NASA cites—in which an Italian monk was killed by a stone ‘projected from the clouds.’”

Everything has to go perfectly wrong for you to get hit with a rock from space. But counterpoint: if you’re hit by a meteorite, you have a bragging right no one else has.

If I knew it would just cost a bruise, I’d get hit by a meteorite any day.

Update: This article has been updated to note that experts believe the object is of terrestrial origins, that is, originating from Earth. 

Correction: A sentence in this article mistakenly referred to Alsace as a town in France. It is a region.

More: Meteorite That Crashed Into Michigan Contains ‘Pristine’ Organic Compounds

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