Meteorites are fascinating. These space rocks plummet through our atmosphere, burning away, and often shatter on impact. The remaining rock can hold materials not found on Earth and even early evidence of the beginnings of life in the universe. For all they can teach us, finding and properly collecting meteorites is critical to astronomy and other scientific fields. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum is doing its part to advance our knowledge of space by offering a hefty reward for a meteorite piece recovered from a remote portion of Maine on April 8, 2023.
On April 8, at 11:57 a.m. EDT, some observers in Maine caught a glimpse of a bright fireball above them. The meteorite was detected by NASA's Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Lab. American Meteor Society eyewitnesses also note the event, the 2,002nd of 2023. Despite the frequency of meteorites being sited, very few (around 10) are recovered each year. NASA calculated the strewn field where particles are likely to be found along the Canadian border near Calais, Maine. The area is heavily wooded, and the fragments are likely to be dark and charred. None have been recovered so far, but the museum would like to change that.
Darryl Pitt, head of the meteorite department, is interested in studying the pieces. “Finding meteorites in woods of Maine. It’s not the simplest of the environments,” Pitt told CNN. “It’s a sparsely populated area but not as sparsely populated as where most meteorites fall—the ocean.” To incentivize this tricky search, the museum is offering a reward of $25,000 for the first meteorite piece weighing 2.2 pounds or more. They may be willing to pay for smaller fractions, too. Pitt noted he was “guardedly optimistic” that intrepid amateurs would find remnants.
For those interested in trying their hand at meteorite hunting, it's important to follow all wilderness safety protocols. Be sure to check out guides from NASA on finding and handling meteorites properly.