Analysis of Residue That Resulted After an Unknown Basketball-Size Object Impacted a Car

Analysis of Residue That Resulted After an Unknown Basketball-Size Object Impacted a Car

Case File Information

Date of Event / Case File: 11/27/1998

Case File Details

Background

On November 27, 1998 between 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. a driver “Shirley” was driving east on 25 Mile road (six miles north of Mt. Clemens, Michigan). It was just getting dark and she noticed a highly intense, white, basketball sized light/object rapidly coming toward her.

There was no sound, and it hit the car with a slight thump or bang. It is unknown what happened to the object after the impact. A cream/gray colored residue was observed where the impact occurred. The object is to identify the residue.

It is a 1992 Ford Escort station wagon with a 1.9 l engine. Recently, the car was examined. There is no evidence of the impact on the car, i.e. no residue remained, and there was no dent. Following are photographs of a drawing by the driver of the object and the residue left on the car soon after the event.

Conclusions

1.) Metal oxide, silicate mineral (a kaolinite type), a celluloidal material and indications of a trace amount of natural ester are found in the cream/gray colored residue on the car. There is a very high probability the metal oxide originates from the object. (It does not appear to be a common type used in paint formulations.) The celluloidal material could also be from the object. Though it should be noted that a modified celluloidal material (specifically cellulose acetate butyrate – CAB) is commonly used as a filler in paint. This material is not chemically modified; it appears to be of natural plant origin. This speculation is fortified by the indicated presence of a natural ester. The silicate source remains unclear. However, some types are known to be used as additives in paint. (Without knowing the specifications of the paint used in a 1992 Ford Escort) we cannot be sure of its origin. However, this analyst feels the silicate is related to the object. Components of the finish/paint are also detected, i.e. an acrylate/styrene/urethane polymer coat (probably the clear coat) and an epoxy layer which probably contains the red pigment. Additionally detected in trace amounts are materials thought to contaminate the sample, e.g. skin fragment and a styrene/isoprene polymer.

2.) Lack of degradation of the paint and the celluloidal material, as well as hydration of the inorganics (silicate mineral and/or metal oxide) indicates little, if any, heat was transferred during the very brief contact with the object. Furthermore, it can be speculated that the object itself was not hot if the aforementioned materials transferred to the car because of the same reasons. If the object was hot the celluloidal material would have incinerated and the inorganics would not be hydrated.

3.) A dull thud on impact, and the fact that the car was not dented, suggests the object was of low mass. A bolide/meteorite would be expected to leave a sizable dent (Note: the area impact at this date (two years later) is clear of the residue and also shows no damage to the paint.)1

4.)The fact that the object impacted the car would suggest it was not under control.

5.) While the object still remains unidentified, a clue to the its origin/purpose may be indicated by the substance which resulted from the impact. The metal oxide is speculated to be part of the object. The possible transferal of silicate mineral and/or the celluloidal material from the object to the car may suggest where the object originated. Perhaps it was a field or pond.

The Analysis

 

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Originating Organization: Phyllis Budinger


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