Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, reveals how a rock from Mars came to Earth, and how it possibly had unfortunate consequences for a dog.
Marek Kukula: Hi, I’m Marek Kukula, I’m Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, and today I want to tell you about one of my favourite objects here on the site. Now it’s not the most impressive looking object, but I think it’s actually the most exciting thing that we have in the collections. It’s a little piece of rock. By analyzing its composition, scientists are pretty sure that the rock actually comes from Mars. So, we have a piece of another planet here in the Observatory building. We think that it was chipped off Mars by an asteroid impact and floated around the solar system, maybe for millions of years before falling to Earth.
There’s actually a nice story about how it came down. It fell over Egypt in the early part of the last century. Many people saw it flashing across the sky as a meteor. It split into fragments which fell into the sand near the town of Makala.
And there’s a very interesting story about one of the fragments. An eye-witness claimed that it fell onto a dog and vaporized the poor creature. And there’s absolutely no evidence one way or another whether this is true, because the poor dog disappeared, obviously. But quite an interesting story and possibly the first ever recorded earthling being destroyed by a Martian.