Last Saturday, citizens in Calais, Maine, reported seeing a bright meteorite in the sky for over 4 minutes, followed by a loud sonic boom.
NASA confirmed the sighting, calling it the first-ever radar-observed meteor fall in the area.
Now a local museum is offering a reward for finding the meteorite somewhere in the woods between Maine and the Canadian border.
Darryl Pitt, head of the meteorite division at the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, told CNN the reward was for a meteorite piece found that weighs 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) or more. But he conceded that the museum would be willing to pay for almost any part of the meteorite.
Pitt warned meteorite hunters to be careful in their search for treasure.
“Finding meteorites in woods of Maine. It’s not the simplest of the environments,” he said. “It’s a sparsely populated area but not as sparsely populated as where most meteorites fall — the ocean,” he added.
Why the bounty?
The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine, knows their meteorites. According to its website, the museum “exhibits the largest display of Lunar and Martian meteorites on Earth.” Not bad for a tiny town of 2,600 people.
What makes the space rock so valuable as to warrant a reward?
Of the estimated 500 meteorites that reach the Earth’s surface each year, less than ten are recovered, according to the Planetary Science Institution. This is because most fall into the ocean, land in remote areas, or are not seen to fall (during the night).
What’s rare is precious.
“Meteorites that fall to Earth represent some of the original, diverse materials that formed planets billions of years ago,” according to NASA. “By studying meteorites, we can learn about early conditions and processes in the solar system’s history.”
Meteorite fragments can be tricky little buggers to find. They resemble Earth rocks but usually have a burned exterior that can appear shiny.