Thursday, April 3, 2014

A skydiver meets a meteorite in mid-air

An amazing story comes out of Norway, where a skydiver making an otherwise routine jump filmed a meteorite that narrowly missed him in mid-air.  A Norwegian report states:

One summer day in 2012, Anders Helstrup and several other members of Oslo Parachute Club jumped from a small plane that had taken off from Østre Æra Airport in Hedmark.

Helstrup, wearing a wing suit and with two cameras fixed to his helmet, released his parachute. On the way down he realised something was happening.

“I got the feeling that there was something, but I didn’t register what was happening,” Helstrup explained to

Immediately after landing, he looked through the film from the jump, which clearly showed that something did happen.

Something that looks like a stone hurtles past Helstrup – clearing him by only a few metres.

. . .

Eventually Helstrup contacted the Natural History Museum in Oslo.

“The film caused a sensation in the meteorite community. They seemed convinced that this was a meteorite, perhaps I was the one who was the most sceptical.”

Now Helstrup suddenly had a whole flock of meteorite enthusiasts following him. They analysed and triangulated and narrowed down the search area.

In the summer of 2012 Helstrup and his helpers had begun searching an area of one and a half square kilometres. Today, the area has been limited to 100 times a hundred meters, but that’s big enough – especially when you’re not really sure what a meteorite looks like.

. . .

“It can’t be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites – a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded,” said geologist Hans Amundsen.

He explained that the meteorite had been part of a larger stone that had exploded perhaps 20 kilometres above Helstrup.

. . .

“It has never happened before that a meteorite has been filmed during dark flight; this is the first time in world history,” said Amundsen.

There's more at the link.

Here's a shortened version of the video shot by Mr. Helstrup, including edited close-ups of the meteorite.  You'll find a longer video at the report linked above.

That's a fascinating encounter, filmed purely by chance.  Now, if the meteorite had actually hit him . . .



Sunnybrook Farm said...

It didn't look rounded to me, I suspect one of his buddies threw it out of the plane at him.

og said...

It looks like it was packed in the chute. Easy enough to tell, look at the film frame by frame and see if it was accelerating or decelerating. A meteor would be decelerating, a rock packed in the chute would be accelerating.
Disclaimer: I am not a physicist so I'm sure someone will come along with fancy math to prove I'm some sort of uneducated Neanderthal.

JaneofVirginia said...

If the meteorite had hit the skydiver then that would be MY kind of luck. Did I mention that one of my sons was struck by lightning INSIDE one of our outbuildings ?
Several years later, he is still recovering.
Thanks for this interesting post.

NotClauswitz said...

At least he wasn't hit by lightning!