Comette family catch falling star

1 November 2011

A METEORITE that crashed on to the roof of a family house in a Paris suburb could not have been better aimed – it landed on the home of the Comette family.

The discovery was made when Martine Comette called in a roofer after noticing a smashed tile on the house in Draveil, Essonne.

They found two stones, the larger of which weighed 88g, and Ms Comette got in touch with meteorite hunter Alain Carion and scientists from the Natural History Museum and the Pierre et Marie Curie University.

Days after they revealed the find another nearby family discovered a 206g stone on a shed roof. They were thought to have fallen on July 12.

Astonished scientists said the 4.5 billion year old meteorites dated from the birth of the Earth and probably came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Ms Comette said the roofer had told her “only Superman could break a tile like that” before finding the blackened stone in the roof insulation.

Alain Carion said it was a “significant” find. His only regret was that the roofer had not kept the broken tile as it would have made a nice exhibit in his Paris museum.

Called chondr ites, the falling stars can be distinguished from ordinary stones because they have a very fine skin of black material; from the scorching as the chondrite sparked through the atmosphere. The broken surface is much lighter in colour.

There are two types of meteorite: stony chondrites, which are the most common find, and iron meteorites, which make up 5%. Anyone finding such a stone is asked not to handle it directly or get it wet.

Only around 50 meteorites have been found on French soil in the past 400 years.

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