That meteorite, which fell on a house in Bartow County last year, is going on display at Cartersville’s Tellus Science Museum this week.
The museum announced the addition to its collection Tuesday, and Tellus staff said they were thrilled to have confirmed a real meteorite.
“People are constantly bringing things into the museum that they think are meteorites,” said Curator Julian C. Gray. “Curators can go through their entire career and never see a real meteorite come through the door.”
Gray and Executive Director Jose Santamaria said they see as many as two to three “meteor-wrongs” a week. But this one was different.
“We had an advantage because there was a hole in the homeowner’s roof,” chuckled Gray. He added that it also had some unique characteristics.
“It’s slightly magnetic; it’s heavier than an Earth rock, heavier than you would expect. It’s got this fusion crust.”
The crust, he explained, is formed when the rock enters the heat and pressure of Earth’s atmosphere and the outer layer melts.
The meteorite is about the size of a tangerine and weighs around 10 ounces. It landed on March 1, 2009, with a sound a neighbor described as a sonic boom, tearing a hole in the roof of the home before crashing through the ceiling and ending its journey on a bedroom floor. No one was home at the time.
The homeowner, who asked not to be identified, decided to loan the meteorite to Tellus, where it will be on display along with part of the roof, an attic rafter and part of the ceiling, all of which were struck by the meteorite.
The meteorite likely came from an asteroid belt in our solar system, Santamaria said.
“These rocks are the size of continents to the size of cars or smaller. Something happens to get them out of orbit, then they start going in a different direction and they cross paths with Earth,” he explained. “They don’t usually hit a house.”
The Cartersville meteorite is only the 25th found in the state, museum officials said.
“Meteorite falls are equally likely to happen anywhere on the planet, but recovering them depends a lot on local conditions,” said consultant Dave Gheesling, a founding member of the Meteorite Association of Georgia. “The dense foliage of Georgia makes it hard to visibly locate meteorite specimens after they fall, and our humid environment is not friendly to meteorites.”
The meteorite will be unveiled at Tellus on Thursday during an Earth Day event that begins at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public with normal admission, and the museum will remain open until 8 p.m.