A US museum is offering $25,000 (£19,986) to anyone who can supply part of a meteorite that landed near the US-Canada border in April.
On April 8, a remote area between Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick was the landing site of an “incredibly rare” bright fireball.
The museum said in a statement that the huge reward will go to the “first 2.2 lb (1 kg) sample” of the meteor shower.
The cash prize caught the attention of local meteorite hunters.
The prize, which is placed by the Mineral Museum of Minerals and Gems in Bethel, has been up for grabs since April 12, after a fireball was seen splashing in the sky over the US state of Maine four days earlier.
The meteorites are expected to have landed in an area on the US-Canada border between White, Maine and Canoes, New Brunswick.
The museum said the cash prize will be open to both Canadians and Americans. It is also offering to purchase any other pieces of meteorites recovered from the April 8th event.
Those who think they have found a meteorite can bring it to the museum for testing.
The prize has attracted locals and seasoned meteorite hunters, but the search has proven difficult and fruitless so far.
Roberto Vargas, a Connecticut man who has been searching for a meteorite since 2019, said he has tried to search for a meteorite in the area twice, but the terrain has proven challenging.
“It’s very bushy, and it’s very muddy,” Vargas told the BBC. He added that many others have gone out searching since April, but nothing has been found so far.
Vargas plans to go back and search a third time, hoping to get lucky. As someone who gave up his day job to hunt for meteorites full time, he said there’s no feeling quite like carrying a rare rock from space.
His hunts have so far taken him as far afield as France, Germany and Costa Rica.
“It’s crazy that you can get on a plane and go somewhere and pick up a piece of a meteorite that was in space five or six days ago,” Vargas said. “There is no such feeling.”
The museum said at the time that the event was seen in broad daylight.
“When the fireball is bright enough to see in daylight, it would be extraordinarily bright if it were at night,” said Darrell Pitt, chief of the meteorite division at the Principal Minerals and Gem Museum.
Pitt added that NASA detected radar data of meteorites descending from the sky while the fireball was descending.
“(This) assures us that there are meteorites waiting to be found,” he said. It is a specialized radar that produces speed data about objects at a distance.
The Maine Museum is home to the largest Martian meteorite on Earth, weighing 14.5 kg, and houses the largest collection of lunar stony meteorites in the world.
How to tell if a rock is a meteorite
Meteorites are incredibly rare, but not impossible to find.
There are four main ways to tell if a rock is just an ordinary Earth object or an item from outer space, according to scientists at the University of Alberta, which has its own meteorite collection.
Check if the outer layer of the rock is a thin, black, eggshell-like crust, as the surface of the meteorite melts when it falls through the Earth’s atmosphere, forming what is known as a fusion crust
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