Indian officials claim that a man was killed by a meteorite strike on a college campus in the southern state of Tamil Nadu over the weekend. A large object reportedly fell from the sky on Saturday, causing an explosion at the Bharathidasan Engineering College that killed the man and injured three other people. The object's impact shattered many nearby windows and left a crater a couple feet deep, CNN reports.
It has yet to be confirmed if the object is actually from space
However, it has yet to be confirmed if the object is actually from space. Officials settled on the meteorite theory after no evidence of explosives was found, according to the Chicago Tribune. Scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics will examine debris from the scene to see if it is from a meteorite. It's possible that the object is some form of space debris or something else altogether. If it is shown to be a rock originating from space, it would be the first recorded event of someone dying from a meteorite impact. "No human in the past 1,000 years is known to have been killed by a meteorite or by the effects of one impacting," says NASA.
But a meteorite strike like this would be an incredibly rare event. Most small meteors that fall to Earth burn up and disintegrate completely in our planet's atmosphere. If a meteor is big enough, some of it will survive the descent to the surface, becoming a meteorite. But most of the time, these leftovers fall into the ocean, since the majority of the Earth's surface is covered in water. The chances of one hitting a person are extremely low, according to NASA.
It's not out of the realm of possibility, though. NASA notes that a meteor between 82 feet and half a mile wide would cause "local damage to the impact area." And in 2013 a large meteor roughly 55 feet wide exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people and damaging numerous buildings.
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