A $25K Hunt Is On in Maine for a Piece of a Meteorite

Anyone who manages to find a 1kg piece could end up handsomely rewarded
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2023 12:58 PM CDT
A $25K Hunt Is On in Maine for a Piece of a Meteorite
The strewn field estimate.   (NASA)

Most meteorites fall in the ocean. Last Saturday morning, one fell into the woods of Maine—and whoever finds a chunk of it could find themselves handsomely rewarded. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum is hoping to get its hands on any fragments that remain, and has announced a $25,000 reward for the first person who finds a piece weighing at least 2.2 pounds (that's one kilogram). CNN reports the museum is also willing to pay an unspecified amount to those finding smaller bits.

The head of the museum's meteorite division, Darryl Pitt, says he'd like to study the pieces, but he acknowledges that might not be possible. While hundreds of meteorites are seen falling to Earth annually, Pitt says typically no more than 10 are recovered—and the woods of Maine are "not the simplest of the environments." A similar offer the museum made in connection with a 2016 meteor went nowhere. But searchers may have a leg up this time: NASA says that this marked the first time a meteorite was detected on radar in the state.

It notes that "eyewitnesses report[ed] a fireball that was bright even in midday, followed by loud sonic booms near Calais, Maine." It was observable by NASA's radar for a full 4 minutes and 40 seconds, and NASA was able to calculate a strewn field estimate using radar signatures. But there may not be pieces of the size the museum wants. USA Today reports NASA calculated fallen pieces were up to 322 grams, or about a third of a kilogram, in size, "although larger masses may have fallen." As for the museum, the Bangor Daily News offers this bit of trivia: It's currently home to "the single largest specimens of both the moon and Mars on Earth." (More meteorites stories.)

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