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Easton Myers
Easton Myers

Rocks From Space: Meteorites And Meteorite Hunters

The newfound meteorite assemblage was the sixth recorded from Florida, and the first one linked to a fireball observed by witnesses, experts said. (The other meteorites were uncovered beneath layers of Earth long after they fell.) You can see photos of their meteorite hunt here.

Rocks from Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters

Nonetheless, news of the fall spread throughout the meteorite community like wildfire. Within five days of the fall, Hankey drove from New York to Florida's Osceola National Forest, joining four others who were eager to begin the search.

In the Florida hunt, the team found four meteorites within the first two days. They searched fruitlessly for another six days, found a whopping 1.76-lb. (800 grams) stone on the seventh day, hunted another full week without luck and then turned up one final meteorite on their last day. Over the course of three weeks, four to five hunters had found a total of six stones.

"We didn't even hunt 1 percent of the square mile of this field, because we couldn't, and we found six stones," he said. "So you figure 6 times 99 is nearly 600" missed meteorites, he added. And by this summer, those rocks will be swallowed by the Earth, likely lost forever.

An international team of researchers just returned with five new meteorites and one that weighs 16.7 pounds. A 40 pound meteorite was found in Antarctica by some of the same members of this team in 2013.

The five meteorites will now be analyzed at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The team divided up some of the sediment that potentially contains tiny micrometeorites, which can be smaller than a grain of sand, for study at their home institutions.

To expand the search for meteorites, Jenniskens coordinates a network of cameras in California and Nevada and invites the public to join the meteor surveillance by reporting their own fireball sightings, post videos, and scan the ground for anything that looks unusual. Jenniskens hopes to use his cameras to trace the origin of that meteorite all the way back to one of the debris fields in the asteroid belt.

More were found in the days that followed. While all were covered in glassy crust, they had different colors and textures from different mixtures of olivines, pyroxenes, iron sulfides and other minerals, unexpectedly showing that asteroid 2008 TC3 spawned many types of meteorites.

All about meteorites ( )From Washington University in St. Louis, a comprehensive collection of information, photos, and a checklist to help you learn more about whether your rock is a meteorite.

Center for Meteorite Studies, Arizona State University ( )Their website has educational resources about meteorites as well as photos highlighting some of their collection of more than 40,000 specimens.

Rocks from Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters (second edition), by O. Richard Norton, 1998, Mountain Press Publishing Company, 447 pagesAn exhaustive but approachable discussion of meteorite science. Covers meteorite discoveries and profiles the individuals involved.

This popular nontechnical introduction to the fascinating world of meteorites, asteroids, comets, and impact craters is now even better! With more than 50 new photographs and updated illustrations, new and expanded appendixes, and some fun cosmic humor, Rocks from Space, Second Edition, journeys into the last frontier for close-up looks at the latest astronomical discoveries. Relive the thrill of seeing Comet Hale-Bopp as it streaked through the dark sky. Watch Pathfinder bump its way across the surface of Mars--while you ponder whether life really exists on the red planet. View photos of the impact scar--twice the size of Earth-where Comet Shoemaker/Levy collided with Jupiter. And learn the latest on meteorite chemistry and classification.

Meteorite Men is a documentary reality television series featuring meteorite hunters Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold. The pilot episode premiered on May 10, 2009. The full first season began on January 20, 2010, on the Science Channel. The second season premiered November 2, 2010, and season three began November 28, 2011. Professors and scientists at prominent universities including UCLA, ASU, UA, Edmonton, and other institutions, including NASA's Johnson Space Center, are featured.

Meteorite Men has won two bronze Telly Awards. The show has also spawned a modern-day "gold rush" as thousands of amateur meteorite hunters now scour the globe each year in search of meteorites.[4]

Meteorite Men has been cited as a possible reason behind the spike in interest regarding meteorites and meteorite hunting in the early 2010s. Dr. Laurence Garvie of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University has stated that after his appearance on the show, he and his colleagues received about a half-dozen boxes of rocks each week from viewers who believed they had found a meteorite.[10]

In 2012, Detective Ryan Piotrowski of the Grand Junction Police Department charged Steve Curry with misdemeanor theft and fraud for selling false meteorites. Piotrowski had seen Meteorite Men and became intrigued by the case when it landed on his sergeant's desk.[13]

Earth is under constant bombardment by space rocks. When they crash and burn through the atmosphere, most of the debris gets lost to the oceans, while some is buried or gradually weathered away. Nonetheless, plenty of chunks of fallen meteors, or meteorites, are strewn across the accessible parts of the planet. So far, more than 40,000 meteorites have been found and catalogued, and countless more are still out there, waiting to be chanced upon.

Step 1. Get permissionBefore you plan a meteorite hunt, make sure that if you find one, you'll be allowed to keep it. Space rocks found in national parks belong to the federal government and cannot legally be kept, said David Kring, a meteorite scientist at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Institute.

But if you don't want to take the risk of finding something that could theoretically be confiscated in the future, you're better off searching on privately owned land. Get permission to do so. "Meteorites belong to the land owner," Kring said. "Anytime a person wants to look for meteorites, arrangements with the land owner should be made first."

Step 2. Pick a good spotIn a world full of rocks, narrowing your search is key. "Meteorites fall anywhere, but they are easiest to spot where there are few terrestrial rocks," said Alan Rubin, a geochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in characterizing newly discovered meteorites. [What If the Sky Actually Fell?]

Within the Mojave or another desert, ancient, dry lake beds are ideal places to search, because their surfaces have likely been exposed for millennia. According to O. Richard Norton and Lawrence Chitwood in their book "Field Guides to Meteors and Meteorites" (Springer, 2008), many meteorites have been found in the Mojave Desert's Rosamond, Muroc and Lucerne dry lakes, among others.

You can also search in "strewn fields," or zones where meteorites from a single space rock were dispersed as it broke up during atmospheric entry. There are well-known strewn fields located near New Mexico's Glorieta Mountain, as well as Holbrook and Franconia in Arizona. Since 1995, thousands of stony meteorites have also been recovered in what appears to be two overlapping strewn fields in Gold Basin, Ariz.

Lastly, the Great Plains is an area with scant terrestrial rocks, so out-of-this-world ones come in higher proportions. "Any new rocks farmers dig up have a good chance of being meteoritic," Norton and Chitwood wrote. "Ask permission to scout the fence rows where rocks are often thrown. More than one meteorite has been found in a farmer's rock pile, or propping open a screen door."

Step 3. Search for new arrivalsSome space rock hunters aren't content to simply look for long-lost meteorites. For folks like Robert Ward, a professional meteorite hunter who last month found a piece of a meteor that was seen crashing through Earth's atmosphere above California the day before, the thrill is finding new arrivals.

"If an accurate trajectory is available, dark flight calculations are performed to figure out where pieces of various sizes may strike the ground. These calculations are posted on the Internet, usually on the meteorobs or meteorites list," Cooke wrote in an email.

Step 4. Harness the power of magnetismWhen preparing for your desert hunting trip, Verish recommends packing plenty of water, snake guards and sunglasses; he also warns against going it alone, and advises meteorite hunters to ride out in two vehicles in case one breaks down.

However, Verish said the best meteorite hunters "find them by eye." Not only can you cover more ground if you're not blindly waving a wand back and forth, but some of the more elusive and thus more remarkable types of meteorites do not contain metal, and can be discovered only by carefully scouring the ground for odd-looking rocks. "These are lunar meteorites, Martian meteorites and igneous meteorites (achondrites) derived from asteroids (essentially basalts)," Rubin wrote.

Step 5. Share with scienceIf you spot what you think might be a specimen from space, ask yourself these questions: Is the rock black or brown? Is it solid, without pores, and dense compared to most other rocks in the area? If a corner of the sample is ground slightly, is the interior metallic silver? (If there is no grinding, don't grind it). Is the sample magnetic? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you probably have a genuine, 4.5-billion-year-old piece of the cosmos.

Go ahead and put it on your mantle, but please take a moment to share news of your find with scientists. Though thousands of meteorites have been catalogued already, each new one is a fresh data point, and could contain a key to one of the many unanswered questions about the solar system's formation and evolution. 041b061a72


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