• Otávio Santiago

Lucky Strike


As the fiery emissary streaked across the skies of Costa Rica, an unearthly mix of orange and green, Marcia Campos Muñoz was in her pajamas, watching TV on the couch. It was 23 April 2019, a bit past 9 p.m., when she heard a foreboding rumble. Heart racing, she tiptoed outside to calm her barking dog, Perry, and to check on the cow pastures ringing her small house in Aguas Zarcas, a village carved out of Costa Rica's tropical rainforest. Nothing. She ducked back inside, just before a blast on the back terrace rattled the house to its bones.


Campos Muñoz phoned her father, brother, and oldest son, who rushed to the house. On the terrace, they found a grapefruit-size hole in the corrugated zinc roof and a smashed-up plastic table, last used for the quinceañera of Campos Muñoz's daughter. The culprit was scattered on the floor, in pieces as black as coal.


She picked up the biggest fragment, still warm to the touch. Already, her phone was chiming with WhatsApp messages from friends telling of blazing fireballs and rocks raining down on farms and fields. The family added its own viral messages to the mix: photos of Campos Muñoz and her son holding the big stone that crashed through her roof. Within hours, a local journalist visited the house and streamed videos of the damage on Facebook Live.


It was only the beginning. A space rock the size of a washing machine had broken up in the skies over the village, and the excitement was about to spread globally.

Meteorites are not uncommon: Every year, tens of thousands survive the plunge through Earth's atmosphere. More than 60,000 have been found and classified by scientists. But meteorite falls, witnessed strikes that take their name from where they land, are rare—just 1196 have been documented. And even among that exclusive group, there was something extraordinary about this particular meteorite, something anyone with the right knowledge could know from the first pictures. The dull stone was, as far as rocks go, practically alive.


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