NO meteorite impact (july 22, 1999)

Object crashes through a roof of a iron melting plant at Weert, the Netherlands

Word came that a meteorite might have impacted at Weert (the Netherlands, 51d 15' N, 5d 42' E) at July 22. A mysterious iron object crashed through the steel plated roofing of an Iron Melting Company, excavating a 'crater' in the floor 20x20 cm wide.

The object was brought to the Aviation Police authorities for inspection; initially, it was thought to be part of an airplane. That turns out to be not the case. A meteorite impact was then suspected. The news report lead us to contact the Aviation Police for information and an inquiry.

Police authorities have been extremely kind and helpfull in the research. Today, I inspected the object together with Dr. Lindner (Utrecht University, dept. of Earth Sciences) at the Aviation Police headquarters at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam), on the kind invitation of officer Krone.

Both Dr. Lindner and I are of the opinion that, although we certainly do NOT say (please note) that this is a meteorite, there is a good although certainly not 100% possibility that it is. The texture of the surface is convincing; what is odd however (and leads to some remaining doubt) is the shape of the object, which is unlike anything I've seen in the field of meteorites before. The object is solid metal, smoothed corners, with what appears to be a dark brown-black 'fussion crust'. However, the shape is odd, it is very elongated, almost rodlike and slightly tapered. Maximum dimension about 42 mm, minimum width about 14 mm.

A definite identification of the nature of the object can only come from a laboratory analysis. Dr. Lindner has taken the object to Utrecht University for a chemical analysis and isotopic measurements to be conducted, which should settle the issue. Untill those results have been obtained, we cannot say for certain whether this is a true iron meteorite or not. If it turns out to be however, this will be the 5th surviving meteorite from the Netherlands (others in 1840, 1843, 1925 and 1990) and the first Dutch iron meteorite.

- Marco Langbroek

Postscript; I want to thank Casper ter Kuile for his help with collecting information, and officer Krone for his very kind and generous help and hospitallity at the Aviation Police headquarters.

I just informally received word from Charles Arps (Dutch Natural History Museum) that the Weert object from 22 July is NOT an iron meteorite -it contains no Ni.

So no new Dutch meteorite, alas.... While slightly disappointed, this does not come as a complete surprise, as the shape of the object was odd indeed and reason for some doubts in my mind clingin on.

The object remains an enigma. Given the force with which it smashed through the steel plated roof, and given it's outlook with something that closely resembles a 'fusion crust' (it certainly is not like a corrosion layer), it would not surprise me if it actually is a piece of a satellite, even though according to Alan no satellite dacays were expected over the area that day.

Perhaps the chemical data can shed some more light; I'll contact Dr. Lindner later this week for more details.

- Marco Langbroek
Dutch Meteor Society (DMS)

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Marco Langbroek and Casper ter Kuile