A meteorite impact helped wipe out the dinosaurs 65 millionyears ago. Now satellites have discovered that anotherimpact the same size hit the Earth more recently, whenhumans were alive. It didn’t end our species because it hitduring an ice age and sank into the Antarctic ice. Much morerecently, in England, a woman was hit by a meteorite whilehanging her laundry out to dry.

Huge impact craters have been spotted under the ice sheet inAntarctica that cover an area of 1,300 miles by 2,400 miles.Scientists think the impact occurred around 780,000 yearsago, when humans were still living mainly in Africa. Theyhit with such force that they melted right through the ice.If it had hit in another part of the Earth, an impact ofthis size could have created tidal waves that might havedrowned the African coast, but the icebergs in the area hada stabilizing affect on the ocean.

Although much smaller meteorites enter our atmosphere at therate of about one a week, most of them evaporate before theyhit land. If they do impact the Earth, they usually end upin the ocean. They hardly ever hit a person, but in England,a woman says one hit her.

Mark Prigg writes in the Evening Standard that Pauline Agusswas hanging her laundry outside when she felt a searing painand noticed a cut on her arm. She says, “It looked black andpeculiar. I went indoors and put a [Band-Aid] on.”

The next day, her husband Jack found a walnut-sized rock onthe path. Pauline says, “It was an odd shape and you couldsee a few small crystals in it. That is when we realized itmight have been a meteorite and now, after talking to peoplewho know about these things, we are 99% certain.”

Astronomer Mark Lawrick-Thompson says, “There is a goodchance this is a meteorite. It is very rare indeed to find one.” The odds against being hit by a meteorite are billions to one.

Is there an impact in our future?World?sEnd 2009 is part of our big newsale!

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