Skydiver nearly gets hit by a meteorite

A skydiver in Norway captured incredible video of an extinguished meteorite shooting past him soon after he deployed his parachute, something that has never been seen before, let alone been recorded.

“This is the first time in history that a meteorite has been filmed in the air after its light goes out,” geologist Hans Amundsen told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Norway’s largest media organization also know as NRK.

Skydiver Anders Helstrup was lucky. The rock very nearly hit him, it passed so close.

single shot of rock
Meteorite (circled) nearly hits skydiver Anders Helstrup. Photo is a screen grab from the video.

Helstrup, skydiving with other members of Oslo Parachute Club in the Rena area, opened his parachute and suddenly experienced an unusual sensation.

“I got the feeling that there was something, but it didn’t register what was happening,” he told NRK.

Upon landing, Helstrup looked at the video recorded from his helmet cameras.

photo collage from video report
Meteorite shown in a collage. Photo is a screen grab from NRK’s report.

“When we stopped the film, we could clearly see something that looked like a stone,” he said. “At first it crossed my mind that it had been packed into a parachute, but it’s simply too big for that.”

In the days afterward, Helstrup and his girlfriend searched extensively in the forested area where he surmised the rock might have landed. Unsuccessful in finding the rock, Helstrup went to the Natural History Museum in Oslo with his video.

enhanced photo of rock
Enhanced look at the meteorite rock. Photo is a screen grab from NRK’s video report.

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

Helstrup still isn’t sure, but Amundsen said it couldn’t be anything else, and believes it was part of a larger stone that might have exploded 12 miles above Helstrup. He thought it was a breccia, otherwise known as a common type of meteorite rock.

In NRK’s video report below, Amundsen surmised it came from an asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, began falling towards the gravity of the Sun, reached the speed of perhaps five times the velocity of a bullet, and got caught by Earth’s gravity.

“If you’d jumped a fraction of a second later, you’d be dead,” Amundsen told Helstrup in NRK’s report above. “It would have cut him in half. Imagine a 5-kilo [11-pound] rock hitting you in the chest at 300 kilometers [186 miles] per hour. That would have led to quite an accident investigation.”

The incident occurred in the summer of 2012 but was made public for the first time Thursday in an effort to get help finding the valuable rock, a venture being called Project Dark Flight. Numerous videos were posted about the incident on the Dark Flight YouTube channel and a website was to launch, though it wasn’t functional last we checked.

Asked for the probability of filming an extinguished meteorite during a parachute jump, Amundsen gave his best guess: “It’s certainly much less likely than winning the lottery three times in a row.”

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