From time to time, kids have accidents on their way to school. Maybe they crash their bicycle and scrape their knee. Or, maybe they twist their ankle stepping off the sidewalk. Or, even worse, a car might hit them while they cross the street. Gerrit Blank, a 14-year-old German boy, has one of these stories, although it's a little less ordinary.
Blank told the Telegraph that he saw a "huge ball of light," felt a pain in his hand, and heard "an enormous bang" that left his ears ringing like a pair of church bells. The meteorite's impact knocked the boy down and left a one-foot-wide crater in the ground. The Telegraph stated that the odds of surviving a blow from a meteorite are one in a million. If true, Blank basically won the lottery -- the prize being his life.
While this sounds like a tall tale, Ansgar Kortem, director of the Walter Hohmann Observatory in Germany, confirmed that the rock was a meteorite through chemical tests. Kortem told the Telegraph that meteorites enter the Earth's atmosphere every day, but most burn up before they reach the surface. Those that do make it that far, six times out of seven, land in water.
We're still not sure if we believe Blank's story. If it is true, he should count his lucky stars (or meteorites) that he's still alive. In 1954, a meteorite struck a woman in Alabama, and she lived to tell about it. That puts Blank in some exclusive company. And, with that 50-year gap, we aren't too worried about the sky falling on us anytime soon. [From: The Telegraph]
If its mission succeeds in 2012, NASA's latest Mars rover, the newly christened Curiosity will join an elite group of robots that have managed to touch down safely on an alien world. Click through to see Curiosity's five greatest forbearers.
Luna 9 Two and a half years before Neil Armstrong's giant leap, the Soviets' unmanned Luna 9 probe touched down on the surface of the Moon on February 3, 1966. For three days, it beamed back the first videos and panoramic photos from a heavenly body.
Venera 7 On August 17, 1970, the Soviet Venera 7 probe crash-landed on Venus and became the first spacecraft to survey our nearest planetary neighbor. What it found wasn't pretty: A hellish world with metal-melting temperatures of 475 degrees Fahrenheit and crushing atmospheric pressure 93 times greater than Earth's.
Viking 1 and 2 After three attempts by the USSR, NASA succeeded in landing the first robot on Mars when Viking 1 touched down on July 20, 1976. (Its sibling, Viking 2, landed on September 3.) Although designed for a 90-day mission, the landers spent over 6 years surveying the planet.
NEAR Shoemaker On February 14 , 2000, Shoemaker locked into orbit around 433 Eros, an asteroid orbiting just past Mars. Though Shoemaker wasn't designed to land on Eros, NASA engineers successfully plunked it down on the rock after its one-year mission.
Huygens Saturn Probe A joint American-European mission touched-down a probe called Huygens on the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, on January 14, 2005. Nearly half the size of Earth, Titan is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere -- which allowed Huygens to make a leisurely two-and-a-half-hour parachute descent while measuring the atmosphere and snapping photos of the terrain. It continued to send back data for an hour and ten minutes after it landed.