[meteorite-list] Flying Ice Block May Have Alien Origin

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:44:40 2004
Message-ID: <200103190224.SAA14990_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Flying ice block may have alien origin
Daily Telegram (Australia)
March 17, 2001

A NEW theory has emerged in the mystery surrounding a lump of ice that fell
through the roof of a Harbord home -- it could have come from a comet.

NASA has become involved in the investigation and yesterday sent a special
container to Australia to transport the ice to the space agency's
headquarters in California.

The ice, which was 30cm long and 15cm thick, crashed through the roof of a
house in Coles Rd, Harbord, on March 6.

The lump pierced the gyprock ceiling, before hitting the bathroom floor and
shattering. Experts were not able to explain its origin.

Dr Roger Buick, lecturer in geo-sciences at Sydney University, was contacted
by Manly police after the story ran in The Daily Telegraph.

He contacted some former colleagues from NASA, who offered to collect a
sample of the ice for testing.

"I've worked for NASA over the years, and thought that they might be
interested in it. They're taking it to their testing laboratory in
California," he said.

"They're going to send out a specialised container to put it in, so it
doesn't get contaminated. It's currently in the freezer of the owners of the

Dr Buick said because the origin of the ice could not be explained, there
was a remote possibility it was part of a comet.

"There's an outside possibility that it could be extra-terrestrial," he

"As far as I know, no one's been able to get a decent sample of a comet

"NASA spends billions trying to get comet tails, so they'd be interested to
see what we've got."

He agreed the mystery could not be sufficiently explained by weather
conditions or an object dropping from an aircraft.

CSIRO atmospheric researcher Paul Holper said there was no meteorological
explanation for such a large chunk of ice, which was too large to be
a hailstone.

A suggestion the ice may have come from a plane flying over the northern
beaches was discounted by Airservices Australia, a spokesman saying it is
`virtually impossible'.

Last week, physics expert Greg Skeoch said the ice may have been travelling
in excess of 200 km/h before it hit the house.

NASA operates a program to examine asteroids, meteors and comets in space,
in an attempt to find out their composition and origin. Deep Space One,
launched from Cape Canaveral in October 1998, employs the latest technology
to examine dust and vapours in asteroids and comets as they travel through
the solar system.

It will next come into contact with a comet in September.

Once the sample reaches NASA, the test will be straightforward.

Scientists can eliminate the possibility that the ice came from an
extra-terrestrial source if they find earthly content within it. These could
be materials such as sodium chloride, table salt, or gypsum, chalk.

A similar ice chunk that fell in Meliana, Spain, last January was discounted
as a comet fragment after scientists detected these substances in a sample.
Received on Sun 18 Mar 2001 09:24:51 PM PST

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