Our planet is constantly being bombarded by objects from outer space. In fact, astronomers estimate the on a typical day, about 100 tons of dust and space-based material enters Earth’s atmosphere. There are also many small meteors that crash into the atmosphere, although most of them burn in the process and never reach the ground. However, from time to time, larger, metallic objects do reach the ground, creating meteorite craters.
The supposed meteorite impact in Peru drew the attention of the media mostly because of the reported mysterious disease among the local people following the explosion. It is common for toxic fumes to rise from an impact crater. Actually, experts who have already started to investigate the incident say that it is more likely the toxic fumes originated in the ground (perhaps as a result of the heat caused by the meteorite’s impact).
The possibility that the crater was caused by a crashed top secret satellite with a radioactive power source seems highly unlikely, seeing as at this stage no radiation has been detected by the scientists who arrived at the remote location. Other possible explanations, such as the outburst of a natural geyser, seem to have been ruled out by the seismic measurements. These measurements indicate that around the time of the event, a 1.5 magnitude earthquake took place in the area, an occurrence more likely to have been caused by an impact.
Image: The water-filled crater close to the Peruvian-Bolivian border (Credit: ANDINA – Agencia Peruana de Noticias).