Speaking of weird stuff falling from the sky being mistaken for other things, we have two stories today, one from New Jersey and the other from Alabama.
In Jersey, this thing fell out of the sky this morning and smashed through a warehouse roof:
What the frak is that thing? They say it made a huge noise as it tore through the roof, and was too hot to touch for a half hour.
It's obviously not natural, but what is it? It's metal, so maybe it did fall from orbit. Unlike meteorites, which slow rapidly in the upper atmosphere and cool the rest of the way down to the ground, manmade objects deorbiting can still be hot when they hit; they start at lower angles to the air and don't necessarily slow as rapidly (this thing looks dense, so its weight-to-surface area is high, meaning it won't slow as much). Could it be from a satellite or rocket launch? Maybe. We don't know enough yet to be sure. However, I very much doubt it's from the satellite collision last week, since there simply hasn't been enough time to see much orbital decay from the shrapnel.
[Update (19:00 Mountain Time): From the comments, we may have a winner. Looks like a grinder tip to me. How it feel through the warehouse roof with such a high temperature is another issue...]
If anyone hears follow-up news to these stories, please let me know or leave a comment below!
Tip op' the Whipple Shield to Doug Troy and the Hive Overmind's own Amos.