NASA Probing Where Chunk of Metal That Hit a Florida House Came From

NASA is investigating after a South Florida resident says his home was severely damaged by an object that fell from space.

Alejandro Otero was on vacation on the afternoon of March 9 when his son called him to tell him something had crashed at the house in Naples.

The object “went through the house and then made a large hole in the floor and ceiling,” he told WINK News. “I immediately thought of a meteorite… it almost hit my son.”

Otero returned home and found a cylindrical object a few inches long and weighing about 2 pounds.

Just five minutes before the house was damaged, a “pallet of equipment” from space had reentered Earth’s atmosphere headed for the Gulf of Mexico, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics , said on X.

He was overseeing the planned disposal of three tons of space debris from the ISS that fell to Earth during an unguided reentry on March 9.

The pallet was “a little northeast” of its planned trajectory and would have reached Fort Meyers – about an hour’s drive from Naples – had it re-entered the atmosphere a few minutes later, McDowell said.

Most space debris vaporizes as it plunges into the atmosphere and reaches temperatures of several thousand degrees, but this depends on its size and composition.

To respond to a question about As for whether the space debris would burn, McDowell said “some pieces of the battery case would survive.”

The European Space Agency says: “Although some parts may reach the ground, the risk of loss – the likelihood that a person will be hit – is very low.”

At the time of the incident, Otero said he contacted NASA about the damage but did not receive a response.

However, engineers now have the object and will analyze it “as soon as possible to determine its origin,” a NASA representative told Ars Technica.

If it turns out to have come from the space station, Otero could be entitled to compensation. But if the item turns out to be foreign-made, his claim could be more complicated, an expert told the publication.

NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside of normal business hours.


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