Somewhere in the remote woods near Maine’s border with Canada, rocks from space may have hit Earth and scattered on the ground — waiting to be picked up.
PORTLAND, Maine — Somewhere in the remote woods near Maine’s border with Canada, rocks from space may have hit Earth and scattered on the ground — waiting to be picked up.
A museum is offering a $25,000 reward if you’re the first to find the big one.
The unusually bright fireball was visible around noon Saturday, said Daryl Pitt, head of the Meteorite Division at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel.
NASA says four radar sweeps detected “signatures consistent with falling meteorites at the time and location reported by eyewitnesses,” and people also heard sonic booms. This is the first time radar has detected a meteorite strike in Maine, the space agency said.
The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum wants to add to its collection, which includes moon and Martian rocks, so the first meteorite hunters to deliver a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) specimen will receive a $25,000 prize, Pitt said. It could be the size of a softball.
“The more people who are aware, the more people who look — and the more likely they are to recover,” Pitt said Wednesday.
Pitt said he was confident there were meteorites on the ground as he detected the descent by radar.
However, there is no guarantee that there are meteorites large enough to pay.
On its website, NASA states, “Meteor masses calculated from radar signatures range from 1.59 grams (0.004 pounds) to 322 grams (0.7 pounds), although larger masses may have been dropped.”
Meteorites may have impacted a wide area from Waite, Maine to Canoe, 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 1/2-hour drive from Portland.
Finding a softball-sized space rock in the wilderness can be like finding a needle in a haystack: Pitt said the estimated area hit by meteorites is about a mile wide (1.6 km) and 10-12 miles (16-19). km), en route into Canada.
Before looking for meteorites interested in meteorite hunting, the museum asks that they know what the meteorites look like so they know what they’re looking for, and avoid private property unless they have a permit.
The museum has an extensive collection of specimens, including the largest intact Martian rock on Earth.
Pitt said the museum would buy any other specimens found by meteorite hunters. The samples are “easily worth their weight in gold,” he said.