HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Life and Universe

Meteor hunters sell space rock for 20 times the price of gold
London, May 05, 2012
First Published: 22:53 IST(5/5/2012)
Last Updated: 22:55 IST(5/5/2012)

Rock hunters are stampeding to the site of the world’s biggest gold rush to find meteorites that are worth 20 times the value of the precious metal. Thousands of prospectors, known as “meteor zombies”, are scouring the Californian desert in the hope of finding a tiny black nugget.

The rush was sparked after a 70-tonne meteor plunged through the atmosphere, creating a deafening sonic boom as it crashed to Earth. It was heard from Sacramento to Las Vegas and released energy equal to one-third the explosive power of an atomic bomb.

The meteor dates back to five billion years ago. Fragments contain a very rare rock called CM chondrite. Collectors are now paying up to 600-pound a gram, 20 times the price of gold.

Most of the meteorites found till date are tiny, with the largest weighing 19g.

Incredibly, the meteorites fell in the same hills where the famous Californian gold rush of 1848 took place.

“People used to pull gold out of the ground. Now, things fall out of the sky. Lucky place, I guess,” The Sun quoted Nasa researcher Scott Sandford as saying.

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