Well, the Peruvians claim something from above hit them…
Maleficent Mystery Meteorite Miasma.
Makes more sense then invading the Home Counties, or New Jersey for that matter; they’ll want to adapt gradually to local conditions, start at altitude…
The claim is that there was a fireball and explosion near Lake Titcaca, and when the locals went to investigate (thinking maybe it was a plane crash), they found a 10-20m crater that was a few meters deep. Noxious smell reported.
Then ~ 500 people living nearby became sick.
Hm. The crater doesn’t look terribly meteoritic (see story for press photo of crater).
A normal meteorite would also not be expected to release much of anything that makes people sick.
There are claims of metalic debris around the crater.
Normally I’d suspect an icy fragment, maybe releasing some volatiles like ammonia.
From the crater size you’d then expect a fragment maybe ~ 2-3 meters in diameter to have made the crater, but it is hard for such a small fragment to survive atmospheric entry.
One possibility is that it was a processed outer system body – with a rock or metal shell with some internal volatile, but there’d be at most a few tons of ice at the surface, which are not going to go very far in making nearby villagers sick, unless the topography traps the fumes and there is little wind.
Or it could have been man made – re-entering rocket body with residual volatiles or a satellite with something in the tanks.
If there is really debris around the crater and the local scientists know what they are doing we will soon know.
UPDATE: One of the comments mentions the EAS – here is the story on the Early Ammonia Servicer tank being jettisoned from the ISS in July ’07 Had ~150kg of ammonia in it when dumped. ~ 600 kg metal tank, might have survived re-entry.
But if they really found magnetic iron rocks (melted?) around the crater, then it wasn’t man made, but a real meteorite.
Orbital decay time was predicted to be ~ 300 days, so predicted re-entry in ~ May ’08, unlikely they got it wrong by factor of 3 – no unusual solar activity in the last couple of months to move the upper atmosphere.
Lake Titcaca, Peru