PORTLAND, Maine — Somewhere in a remote stretch of woods near Maine’s border with Canada, rocks from space have crashed into Earth and may be scattered across the Earth — just waiting to be picked up.
If you’re the first person to find a large one, the museum says it will pay a $25,000 reward.
The unusually bright fireball could be seen in broad daylight at noon Saturday, said Darrell Pitt, chief of the meteorite division at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel.
NASA says four radar scans have detected “signatures consistent with meteor showers seen at the time and location reported by eyewitnesses,” and people have also heard sonic booms. The space agency said it was the first time radar had detected a meteorite fall in Maine.
The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum wants to add to its collection, which includes moon and Mars rocks, Pitt said, so the first meteorite hunters to submit a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) specimen will receive a $25,000 prize. That could be the size of a softball.
“As people become more aware, the more people look — the more likely they are to recover,” Pitt said Wednesday.
Pitt said that because the lander was detected by radar, he was confident the meteorites could be found on Earth.
However, there is no guarantee that there will be any meteorites large enough to demand payment.
NASA said on its website that “meteorite masses calculated from radar signatures range from 1.59 g (0.004 lb) to 322 g (0.7 lb) although larger masses may have fallen.”
The meteorites likely smashed across a swath of land stretching from White Township, Maine, to Canoes, New Brunswick. According to NASA, the largest samples will be scattered at the western end of the debris field, closest to Waite – about a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Portland.
Locating a softball-sized space rock in the wild can be like finding a needle in a haystack: The estimated area where the meteors hit is a mile (1.6 km) wide and spans 10-12 miles (16-19 miles), Pete said. km), all the way to Canada.
The museum asks aspiring meteorite hunters to familiarize themselves with what the meteorite looks like before searching, so they know what to look for, and to avoid private ownership unless they have permission.
The museum has an extensive collection of specimens, including the largest intact Martian rocks on Earth.
Pitt said the museum is also looking to purchase any other specimens found by meteorite hunters. He said the samples “could easily be worth their weight in gold.”
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