Bethel, ME

A museum is offering a $25,000 reward for a piece of a meteorite that fell on the U.S.-Canada border

B.R. Shenoy

The cosmic rockfall happened just before noon local time on Saturday, April 8, 2023.
MeteorPhoto byTasos MansouronUnsplash

"The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine — which contains the single largest specimens of both the moon and Mars on Earth — is offering a $25,000 reward for the first one kilogram meteorite recovered," per a press release from the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum.

On Saturday, April 8 at 11:56 a.m. local time, a meteor streaked through the sky above Washington County, Maine with such velocity that it surpassed the speed of sound.

According to NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Lab, the meteor was big enough to produce a luminous fireball.

CNN reports that the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum located in Bethel, Maine, is now offering a prize of $25,000 to anyone who can bring in a meteorite fragment weighing a minimum of 2.2 pounds.

Per CNN, Darryl Pitt, who is in charge of the meteorite division at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, has stated that they would be willing to purchase a piece of meteorite regardless of its size.

According to NASA's Doppler radar, there is an expanding strewn field that originates from the northwestern region of Waite, ME and extends across the border into Canoose, New Brunswick, Canada. This indicates that the area is likely to contain numerous meteorite fragments of different sizes that can be searched for.

Tips and advice for would-be meteorite hunters

  • The museum is interested in obtaining a meteorite sample for its collection, but it is important to ensure that no one gets injured or arrested in the process.
  • The search area is situated in a rugged wilderness, requiring suitable gear and clothing.
  • Additionally, the museum advises against trespassing on private property and recommends seeking permission before commencing the meteorite hunt.
  • It is also recommended to conduct research beforehand by accessing meteorite identification resources available online.
  • NASA offers a guide on finding and handling meteorites properly.
  • The University of Alberta and the University of New Mexico's Meteorite Museum both also offer excellent guides for identifying meteorites (as well as meteorite imposters).
  • Anyone who wants to claim the reward must ensure that the specimen they bring in is a genuine space rock and get it tested and verified by the museum's research lab technologist, at their own cost.
  • The museum also warns that specimens with advanced botanical matter are not from the recent meteor event.
  • The United States Geological Survey suggests asking certain questions to determine whether an object is a meteorite, such as whether it is dense, magnetic, has an unusual shape, and possesses a fusion crust resulting from melting during entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
  • It’s important to note that certain characteristics, such as light-colored crystals, bubbles, and streaks, are not typically found in meteorites.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

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