PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) – It was no ordinary rock that a Pawleys Island woman found in her yard; it was a meteorite.
That was what a team of Clemson University astrophysicists confirmed after getting a look at the rock Melanie Casselman discovered, according to a university press release.
Casselman found the unusual rock on the side of her yard on Sept. 26. The Clemson press release stated she thought it was neighborhood kids throwing rocks at her home.
She didn't think much about the rock until her partner, Dennis Suszko, found another piece of rock near her water spigot.
"When I saw the second rock, I said, 'There's one just like that on the side of the house; I just saw that yesterday!' So we went over to the side of the house and Dennis immediately thought the same thing — somebody is throwing rocks at my house," Casselman was quoted as saying in the release. "These were odd-looking rocks, though. It wasn't like anything around it, and I jokingly said, 'We must've had a meteor shower last night.'"
The couple used their cellphones to search for images of meteorites. Then, they began the hunt for other chunks of matching rock.
During their search, the two happened to look up and saw there was a chunk of shingles chipped out from the eave of the roof and a dent in the aluminum edging of the house, the Clemson release stated.
"We're not positive, but we believe that's where the meteorite first struck before landing in the yard," Casselman said.
It was Suszko's 15-year-old son, Christopher, who happened to notice that the two pieces of rock the couple had found actually connected.
Casselman turned to Clemson astrophysicists to determine if the rock was truly out of this world. The team confirmed that it was, in fact, a meteorite.
According to the Clemson release, a meteorite of this size reaching the ground intact is quite common, as opposed to a huge asteroid like the one believed to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Asteroids of that scale strike the Earth only once every 100 million years or so. A meteorite like Casselman's — weighing in at approximately 6.3 ounces — will survive its plunge through the atmosphere and reach the ground intact about 80 times a day, the release stated.
"But one that hits a house or some kind of populated place, that's a lot rarer," astrophysicist Sean Brittain is quoted as saying. "That's what's so unusual about this. It's not so much that a meteor made it to the ground, it's that it made it to the ground by hitting somebody's house."
Watch a Clemson video of the astrophysicists discussing the meteorite here.