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Possible Meteorite Lands in Turlock Backyard
Lisa and Albert Darmousseh of Turlock may have a little piece of Mars in their backyard. At least they hope so.

Lisa Darmousseh was watching the Olympics Monday just before midnight when she heard a thud in her backyard. She went out to investigate but didn't see anything.

The next afternoon, she noticed divots in the backyard and what looked like several mushrooms or dog droppings. Her husband tried to pick one up with a paper towel and said it still felt hot. "When we saw it at 5:30 or so, the smoke was still coming out of this one," said Albert Darmousseh.

The family believes what landed in their backyard was a meteorite that likely broke into three pieces on impact. The biggest piece weighs 137 grams, or about 4.5 ounces, and is the size of a grapefruit.

The couple's nephew did a little investigating on the Internet and believes the rock has characteristics in common with ones from Mars. The family has contacted NASA to determine what to do next with the rock.

Thousands of meteorites fall to Earth each year. Most burn up in the atmosphere or fall in the sea or remote areas. Only 31 recovered meteorites are known to have come from Mars, which makes them extremely rare and very valuable. Others have been found in Libya, Antarctica, and Southern California.

The Darmoussehs say whether or not it's from Mars, it's still exciting to have a rock from outer space in their own backyard. "If it's from Mars, it would be the 32nd, and if it's not, how often do you find an asteroid in your backyard?" said Mike Darmousseh.



Story last updated Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 6:22 PM
 
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