Scientists Have Discovered the Value of an Old Meteorite

Scientists Have Discovered the Value of an Old Meteorite

A humble doorstop in Michigan is worth US$ 100,000.

A solid piece of debris from an asteroid, comet, or a meteoroid, which originates in outer space and manages to reach the surface of a planet or moon is called a Meteorite. The hostile conditions of the atmosphere heat it up during its journey and the meteorite starts radiating energy. As a result, it attains the status of a meteor by turning into a fireball which is generally known as the ‘Falling Star’ (Shooting Star). Astronomers use the term ‘Bolides’ to distinguish the brightest meteorites. For a meteorite to be called a bolide, it must be large enough to create a crater.

Traditionally, meteorites can be divided into three types. Firstly, we have Iron Meteorites that are mostly composed of metallic iron-nickel. Then comes the Stony Meteorites that are mainly made of silicate minerals. Lastly, there is a combination of both called Stony-Iron Meteorites which have large amounts of both rocky and metallic material. Nowadays, the categorization of meteorites is done according to their chemical and isotopic composition, mineralogy, and structure.

All the detected meteorites that didn’t make it to the surface of our planet are called Meteorite Finds. On the other hand, all those who make it to the Earth are known as Meteorite Falls. As of 2018, astronomers have more than 59,200 well-documented meteorite finds while the count of witnessed falls is at 1,412. We have an addition to this list of meteorite falls as the 6th largest meteorite in Michigan has been brought to the attention of experts 80 years after its discovery. It was leading a secret life in a local farm for the past 80 years but things changed dramatically for this precious rock from space once the experts got their hands on it. Mona Sirbescu, a Geologist at the Central Michigan University, expressed her delight in the following words:

I could tell right away that this was something special. It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically.”

This discovered meteorite is nicknamed as the Edmore Meteorite and weighs 10 kilograms. It is a large iron-nickel meteorite having a high Nickel percentage of 12%. Sirbescu told the world that an anonymous man from Grand Rapids in Michigan asked her to examine a rock he had for the last 30 years to determine whether it is a meteorite or not. She explained that it was not a strange thing for her as this has been happening throughout her career. However, the results were completely different, this time, from all her previous ventures as she did find a spectacular rock from space. She referred to that by saying,

For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’ – meteor wrongs [sic], not meteorites.”

The story of the man who presented this expensive stone to Sirbescu is quite interesting. He got the first glimpse of this odd-shaped rock in 1988 when he was surveying the farm, with the old owner, for sake of buying it. On asking, he was told that it is a meteorite which came down one night in the 1930s. The old owner went on to say that as this meteorite is a part of the property, it will now belong to the new owner. The statement from the university described the arrival of the Edmore Meteorite by quoting the owner. It said,

He went on to say that in the 1930s he and his father saw it come down at night on their property ‘and it made a heck of a noise when it hit’. In the morning they found the crater and dug it out. It was still warm.”

The new owner used it as a doorstop for 30 years before he decided to get it examined with the intentions of making some money. It turned out to be a spectacular idea because the humble doorstop is worth at least 100,000 USD. Having said that, the buyer is yet to be decided as both the Smithsonian and a mineral museum in Maine are interested in buying this 80-year-old meteorite. Sirbescu mentioned what generally happens with these meteorites in the following words:

What typically happens with these at this point is that meteorites can either be sold and shown in a museum or sold to collectors and sellers looking to make a profit.”

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