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(meteorobs) Meteor Collisions



An old coworker of mine called me tonight with some questions about
meteors that I can only guess at the answers.  I think the recent air
crashes  stimulated the questions.  He is an electrical engineer and I
will give credit for really fishing for answers to the nagging questions
in the most recent two crashes.

First:  What is the possibility that an airplane would be struck by a
meteor?  Right off bat I told him that that would be infinitesimal  in
light of the fact that I think that only one person has been known to
have been struck by a meteor and that was a grazing blow.  Is that
correct?  However the fact that modern planes fly as high as some
meteors that are just starting to ablate, might increase the chances.

Second:  How much damage would a meteor do if it did strike a plane?
Would it cause decompression? My answer to that was, it would depend on
the size, but most meteors are less than pea size and though they are
traveling at extremely high speeds it is unlikely that they would cause
extensive damage.  I would think they would do more damage to the more
exposed electronics of a satellite. Do you all agree?

Does anyone out there have any statistical data on these questions.

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