Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/22/virginia_doc_office_meteorite/

Crusty fireball space mango wrecks US doctor's office

'Fresh, pretty' meteorite blasts startled medics

By Lewis Page

Posted in Science, 22nd January 2010 14:30 GMT

A "mango-sized" meteorite crashed into a doctor's office in Virginia this week at more than 200 mph, according to reports. The space rock smashed through the roof, an internal wall and an upper floor before shattering into several pieces on a concrete slab.

"Literally an explosion went off," Dr Marc Gullani told local TV station WUSA9.

"It came from the roof, through the fire wall, through the ceiling and hit the ground right here," said his colleague Dr Frank Ciampi.

Nobody was hurt in the meteor strike, and the pieces of interplanetary debris were subsequently identified as being extraterrestrial by a geologist, fortuitously married to the doctors' receptionist.

The bits were then sent for analysis by the boffins from the meteorite collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who described their arrival as "a special moment".

Dr Linda Welzenbach of the Smithsonian - evidently a woman with an encyclopaedic knowledge of asteroid strikes in America - immediately said "as I recall, this will be the fourth fall in Virginia." She later added that as a connoisseur she considered the alien boulder "pretty" and "very fresh", remarking further that "it's a shame that it broke on impact."

Local residents apparently reported a "brilliant fireball" streaking through the sky, prior to the devastating doctor's-surgery strike. Welzenbach says the blazing passage of the rock through the Earth's atmosphere had melted its exterior, giving it a "fusion crust".

The meteorite is apparently a common-or-garden chondrite, formed out of floating space gumble in the early days of the solar system. Most meteorites found on Earth are chondrites; no sensation is expected in spacegoing-rock aficionado circles.

Reports by WUSA9 and Space.com are here and here respectively. ®