A team from National College, Tiruchirapalli consisting of Dr. K. Anbarasu, Principal and a Geologist, Dr. S. Senthil Kumar, Associate Professor in Biotechnology, Dr. M. Murali and Dr. D. Saravanan, Associate Professors in Chemistry and Dr. R. Jayakumar, a retired DDG, GSI, visited Bharathidasan Engineering College, Natrampalli, Vellore, to study the features of the unknown celestial object fallen in the campus.
No piece of meteoritic substances was observed in the place where a crater has formed by the impact of the fallen object. The crater has been disturbed by the previous investigators and the original nature could not be observed. But the photograph produced by one of the persons in the campus that was taken immediately after the event shows that the crater is a linear depression formed by a penetrating object. The whole area is observed strewn with fresh green fallen leaves. A small portion of a nearby tree trunk showed signature of slight burn. The soil thrown out of the ground by the impact was seen coated on the trunk of the tree.
The team visited all the buildings and observed the damages caused by the impact of the object. Almost all the buildings in the campus have mildly been affected by the tremor that was developed as a result of the impact of the object. The glass window panes of most of the buildings have been shattered to pieces. Minor cracks have developed in the administrative block where the Principal’s office, library, Examination Cell and Classrooms are located. Doors and windows have been dislocated slightly.
The video footage recorded by CCTV installed in the campus have shown that a gush of wind has entered in to the building making all the window screens to fly high at the time of the impact.
The impact seems to have created loud noise and hushing sound which pushed out of its place the cast iron lid of man-hole from the concrete water tank located near the crater. The glass window panes of all the buses parked around the region have been damaged.
The workshop which has been constructed with girders and metal sheets on all sides and roof of the mechanical engineering department has also shown damages of the impact. A piece of the fallen object has pierced through one of the metal sheets on the sides creating a hole in it. The girders of the roof were also seen to be bent. The metal roof of the workshop was also seen with slight bent.
The team also searched the roof of the buildings for possibility of getting pieces of fallen material. Small pieces of pyroclastic – like materials were found strewn on the roof of the administrative building. The objects show acicular nature, black in color with metallic lustre and strongly magnetic. The solid fragments exhibit flight marks on the surface. The aerodynamic shape of the material indicates that it has pierced through the atmosphere ‘nose – down’. Fine particles of the same substances were also found on the roof in two places. Those materials were collected with the help of hand-magnets for further analysis.
The materials were studied under Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to understand the micro-morphological characteristics. The SEM images show carbonaceous chondrites (CC). The analysis of the substance through SEM-EDX (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) reveals the presence of framboidal magnetites (Fe2O3) and pyrites (FeS2). The presence of iron, oxygen, carbon, silicon, sodium, aluminium, calcium, manganese, sulphur and potassium in the material are confirmed. The close analysis of the SEM images show the material has the assemblages of innumerable carbonaceous chondrites ranging in size from about 10 to 50 micrometer. The materials were also studied under Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrscopy (FTIR), revealing the presence of aliphatic hydrocarbons.
The news reported by CNN today (Feb 10, 2016) stating that it is unlikely something from space fallen in the college is responsible for killing of a man can be refuted by our preliminary study that confirms the fallen materials were meteorites. The CNN has released the statement based on the observation of photographs posted online. But the features seen on the photograph are distorted crater images by previous investigators. The original crater formed by the impact of meteorite is much smaller than what was posted online. A white fume trajectory was also observed immediately after the incident indicating the flight path of the meteorite. Based on the study the team has concluded that the fallen objects are meteorites. A detailed scientific study report will be published shortly.
As it is the first incident in history of meteorite causing a human causality a more detailed investigation by National and International agencies are warranted.
As per the international norms for the nomenclature of meteorites, the present meteorite is named as “BEC 1”, which denotes the fallen site with a number.
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