Fireball From Outer Space Flashes Across Maine And A Museum Wants To Find What Caused It

[PsamatheM, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

Earlier in the year, those living in Maine saw something out of this world streak across the sky. Now they’re trying to find where it landed on the ground. 

USA Today explained that “booming” noises were heard near Calais, Maine, shortly after the fireball was seen moving through the sky. This apparent meteorite fall occurred at 11:56 a.m. local time, NASA said.

NASA’s radar was able to observe the event for nearly five minutes and calculated fallen meteorite masses from 1.59-322 grams, or less than a pound, “although larger masses may have fallen.”

Shawn Laatsch, the director of the Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine in Orono, told the Machias Valley News Observer that he speculates the fireball was maybe a larger kind of meteor called a bolide because those are often visible during the daytime.

“If it’s visible in the daytime, it’s usually a large meteor that hits that atmosphere and lights up,” Laatsch told the Observer. “The different colors you see depend on what it was made up of.”

The space rock, or rocks, spread all over northern Maine, near the Canadian border, and now a museum there wants people to find chunks of it and bring it in by offering a huge reward. 

The Portland Press writes that Darryl Pitt, the chair of the meteorite division at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel has said that the rocks “are worth their weight in gold.” 

The newspaper noted, “The museum is offering a $25,000 reward for the first 1-kilogram meteorite recovered. It also will purchase other specimens it verifies as real to add to its extensive meteorite collection.

But finding them is the hard part, especially in heavily forested places like Maine.

Recovering meteorites after a witnessed fireball is much rarer, and only happens about seven to 10 times each year worldwide. Last year, five meteorites were recovered following a witnessed fireball.

‘When a fireball is sufficiently bright to be seen in broad daylight, it would have been extraordinarily bright had this been a night,’ said Pitt, who is such a big fan of the celestial rocks that he bought a car just because it was hit by one.”

While they might be hard to find, experts say that the meteorite is definitely out there waiting to be claimed. NECN stated that “the fact that radar detected the fiery descent assures the meteorites can be found on the ground, though there’s no guarantee there are any meteorites big enough to claim the payout, Pitt told The Associated Press. He said the museum is also looking to purchase any other specimens found by meteorite hunters.

The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum maintains an extensive collection of specimens, including the largest intact Mars rock on Earth. The museum is asking meteorite hunters to brush up on what meteorites look like before searching, so they know what they’re looking for, and avoid private property unless they have permission.”

Happy hunting! 

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