Since early September, the denizens of this normally hushed burg in central France have been serenaded by an industrial drill poking holes around town and pulling up cylinders of rock.
That’s because Rochechouart, population 3,800, and its medieval castle are built on top of an astrobleme.
“An astrobleme() — which literally means ‘star scar’ — is the name given to traces left by a major meteorite impact,” explained Philippe Lambert, one of the astrogeologists trying to unlock its secrets.
This particular impact crater was made by a massive space rock that crash-landed more than 200 million years ago, and has intrigued scientists since its discovery in the 19th century.
“You have a nugget under your feet!” the famous Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves enthused in 2011 while visiting the research project here he helped launch.
Since then, scores of scientists — geologists, paleontologists, exobiologists — from a dozen countries have submitted requests to examine the space rock up close.
Lambert — who devoted his 1977 doctoral thesis to France’s only known astrobleme — today directs the International Center for Research on Impacts at Rochechouart (CIRRI).
Source: News agencies