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Skydiver almost hit by meteorite

It takes a brave person to plummet to the earth from thousands of feet in the air with nothing but a glorified table cloth to save you from certain doom. And yet, plenty of people go skydiving every day and the statistics seem to say that it’s actually pretty safe.

Well, prepare to question those statistics going forward because there’s a new element in play: meteorites.

Anders Helstrup, a Norwegian skydiver, was nearly hit by a space rock while doing a jump in the summer of 2012, a report from Norway’s NRK said. There’s no telling what would have happened if he had been hit, but it probably would not have ended well.

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The funny thing is, Helstrup didn’t even realize something had flown by him until he watched the video of his jump later that day. At the 26 second mark in the video below, you can see a small, dark object zip past him.

And in case you’re skeptical, Helstrup decided to get a second opinion. He contacted the Natural History Museum in Oslo and the experts there seem to be convinced.

From NRK:

Although Helstrup is still not completely convinced that it was indeed a meteorite that flew past him, the experts are in no doubt.

"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.

Amundsen thinks he can make out coloured patches in the stone, and believes that in that case it may be a breccia ? a common type of meteorite rock.

Since the day of the jump, Helstrup has been on a mission to find whatever it is that passed him in the sky. He’s had the help of meteorite enthusiasts who heard his story, but so far they haven’t found anything.

NRK added that if it is found and confirmed as a meteorite, the video would be the first known recording of a meteorite in dark flight.

When a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it slows down and ionizes molecules around it; it is this blazing track across the sky that is called a meteor.

When the light disappears, the meteorite enters the stage called "dark flight"; it then no longer travels at an angle, but falls straight down.

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

(H/T Deadspin)

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