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The life-threatening dangers here on Earth may seem like plenty. But lest you forget: at any moment, a rock traveling at 20,000 miles per hour could fall out of the blue sky above, crash through your roof and bonk you on the head. Here's a run-through of modern-era meteorites that have hit people, made them sick, or simply wrecked their cars.
Peekskill fireballSlide 2 of 13
On October 9, 1992, a giant fireball came crashing through the evening sky and up the East Coast. First visible in West Virginia, the shards traveled northeast as they fell and eventually impacted the ground in Peekskill, NY, giving the meteorite its name. One fragment wrecked a car.
Because of the shallow angle at which it fell relative to the Earth it burned through the atmosphere, at a slant, for a full 40 seconds the Peekskill meteorite was seen by thousands of people, and captured on video from at least 16 different perspectives. The footage has been used by scientists to study the trajectories of meteors in the atmosphere.Slide 3 of 13
Carancas impactSlide 4 of 13
On September 15, 2007, a meteorite impacted Earth near the village of Carancas, Peru, creating a 50-foot-wide crater . When local officials went to investigate, they saw boiling water bubbling at the bottom of the hole. Sickeningly foul-smelling, noxious gases rose out of it, striking the investigators ill on the spot.
In the days after the impact, about 200 villagers came down with a mysterious illness, suffering nausea, headaches and vomiting. Later, tests of the impact site by scientists at Peru's Mining, Metallurgy, and Geology Institute (INGEMMET) showed that the locals had likely suffered mild arsenic poisoning. The meteorite unleashed gaseous arsenic when its hot surface met an underground water supply tainted with the poisonous element, the scientists said. [Read: How Does Arsenic Kill? ]Slide 5 of 13
Hodges meteoriteSlide 6 of 13
On November 30, 1954, a fireball streaked through the Alabama sky. It produced a sonic boom that nearly knocked a boy off his bicycle in Montgomery, and created television interference in homes up to 70 miles away from where it landed. The space rock broke up into three main pieces as it ripped through the atmosphere.
Ann Elizabeth Hodges was snoozing on the couch in the living room of her home in Oak Grove near Sylacauga, Alabama when the largest of those pieces, a grapefruit-sized rock, suddenly came crashing down through her roof. It ricocheted off her console radio and struck her on the hip. Badly bruised but still able to walk, Hodges became the only person on record ever to be injured by an extraterrestrial object.
The United States Air Force immediately sent a helicopter to Oak Grove to claim the meteorite. Analysis showed it was wrought of H4 chondrite, a ferrous type of rock.Slide 7 of 13
Sikhote-Alin meteor showerSlide 8 of 13