Earlier this week, a Hamburg Township, Michigan, meteorite hunter found three pieces of a meteor that was sighted by many of the state’s residents on Tuesday night. With a good number of hunters expected to head to the frozen lake where the fragments were originally found, a meteorite consultant confirmed that he is willing to reward the first individual who could present to him a substantial chunk of the meteor.
Although the Detroit Free Press identified freelance planetary field scientist Robert Ward as the first person to find fragments from the Michigan meteor, he’s not the only one who may have found, or is trying to find, bits and pieces originating from that space rock. With this in mind, Macovich Collection of Meteorites curator and Christie’s auction house meteorite consultant Darryl Pitt announced on Friday that is he offering $20,000 to the first person who could find a fragment that weighs at least one kilogram (2.2 pounds).
“It’s better to go out there and find them sooner, because the longer they’re on the ground, the more they tend to blend in with Earth rocks,” said Pitt, who told MLive that the first one-kilogram chunk of meteor represents a “winning extraterrestrial lottery ticket.”
“I really want this to be found and the only way that’s going to happen is if there are more boots on the ground.”
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) January 20, 2018
Although he currently makes his home in New York, Pitt’s interest in the Michigan meteor can be explained by the fact that he grew up in the state and attended the University of Michigan, MLive noted. He also told the publication that this week’s meteor event stood out for the number of people who had sighted the space rock before it broke up and crashed to the ground, triggering a magnitude-2.0 earthquake.
Based on estimates from NASA, there’s a good chance that several meteorites can be found about 2.5 miles west of Hamburg Township. A separate report from MLive suggested on Saturday that the frozen lake where Ward, together with fellow meteorite hunters Larry Atkins and Darryl Lander, found the fragments, is likely to be “swarming with hunters” this weekend.
“We’ll see how this goes on and plays out. The weather is going to change. We’re going to get some rain and going to get some warm up,” Atkins remarked.
“That could create a whole new scenario. Where meteors can’t be found in a snow-covered yard today, you may be able to find them in a week.”
While Pitt is offering a large reward for bigger chunks from the Michigan meteor, the men who found the first few pieces expect these fragments to be worth a decent amount of money. According to Atkins and Lander, the fragments they found might sell for about $100 per gram, with meteorites generally fetching values of $0.10 to $10,000 per gram, depending on the circumstances behind the meteor event, as well as the size of the meteor the pieces came from.
As of this writing, there have been no new reports of people qualifying for the reward by finding a one-kilogram fragment from the Michigan meteor. But Pitt told MLive that Christie’s is coincidentally scheduled to hold a meteorite auction in two weeks’ time. He did not say, however, whether the larger fragment he’s looking for will be among the items auctioned off during the event.