quinta-feira, 3 de maio de 2012

Want to get rich? Meteorites are worth three times as much as gold

Residents of the Western United States got a surprise wake-up call on Sunday, April 22 in the form of a fireball, which then exploded. Immediately after the event, 911 call centers in both states were flooded with calls reporting the event. According to some witnesses, the explosion was so powerful that it even caused buildings to shake. So, with a meteor explosion taking place comes the obvious question: did pieces of the space rock survive the fall all the way to Earth's surface?

Short answer, yes.

Peter Jenniskens is one of the world's most dedicated, and successful, meteorite hunters. Taking known data from last weekend's event, Jenniskens was able to deduce where fragments of the meteorite, if they survived at all, would have landed. Result: a tiny, 4 gram sample of the meteorite, which was enough to identify the space rock as a carbonaceous chrondite, a rare type of meteorite. In addition, several other fragments have also been found in the area, too.

As NASA continues to investigate this major event, it is asking the public for help in the form of photos, videos, and fragments of the space rock. The hope: photographic evidence will be able to help pin down a trajectory, which could solve the question of whether the exploding meteor was a Lyrid or not.

Another point of interest: meteorite fragments are worth a lot of money, too, roughly 3.5 times the value of gold.

So far, 46 grams of the meteorite, a rare carbonaceous chondrite, have been found. In today's market, that would bring in roughly $9000. The reason for the high value? Carbonaceous chrondrites are rare, extremely rare. Counting last month's event, only three such meteorites have landed in the united States, with the other coming in 1936 and 1950. Reason for the rarity? Chrondrites are fragile and often completely burn up on atmospheric entry.

So, if you live in California or Nevada, here's a good reason to keep one's eyes on the ground as, with meteorites, it's a case of finders keepers.

Source: Examiner.com

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