Meteorites and the dramatic fireballs that announce their arrival have long instilled both fear and wonder in the human imagination. Yet scientists did not begin to understand meteorites until fairly recently. It wasn't until the early 1800s—after researchers investigated a series of dramatic meteorite falls in both Europe and the United States—that most scientists accepted that rocks actually fall to Earth from space. Today, better technology allows researchers to study meteorites in new ways and unlock their many secrets.
Topic: Earth Science
Keywords: Astrophysics, Astrogeology, Meteorites--History
Around 11:30 A.M. on November 16, 1492, a young boy saw a large stone plummet from the sky and land in a wheat field near the town of Ensisheim in Alsace, France.
When the Krasnojarsk meteorite was found in 1749, no one believed that rocks came from space.
The Wold Cottage meteorite made quite a splash when it landed in Yorkshire, England, on December 13, 1795: a farmhand standing near the impact site was splattered with mud.
On April 26, 1803, meteorites rained down on the town of L'Aigle in Normandy, France.
As scientists in Europe continued to debate the extraterrestrial origins of meteorites, their counterparts in the United States discounted the theory—until a meteorite landed in their backyard.
Since 1976, the Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program, or ANSMET, has found more than 10,000 meteorites.