The latest major meteorite to create a sonic boom in three US states brought meteorites, or fragments, with it. Finding a piece of space rock that has traveled millions of miles and could be as old as the Solar System can certainly be exciting, but for those who think it will make a big difference to science, NASA has a nasty surprise: NASA doesn’t want your space rocks!
Reports of some of these recent space rocks found in an area east of the city of Natchez and along Highway 84 in Mississippi have been confirmed, according to NASA Meteor Watch on Facebook. But NASA Meteor Watch said, “We’re not meteorite people, because our main focus is to protect spacecraft and astronauts from meteorites. So we can’t detect any strange rocks you might find – please don’t send us photos of the rock because we won’t respond.”
Under US law, if you find a meteorite on your own land, you own it. That is, permission from the land owner is required before other people chasing space rocks step foot on the property. However, if a meteorite is found on federal land, government officials consider it to belong to the government, and meteorites found on federal land actually belong to the Smithsonian Institution, according to an interpretation of the 1906 “Historic Artifacts Act.”
National parks and public lands generally prohibit the extraction of rocks (or most natural matter) from them, but the Bureau of Land Management generally allows meteorites to be harvested with some limitations.
NASA Meteor Watch, people’s, St. Louis University of Washington, Dr. He suggests using a test designed by Randy L. Korotev that asks people not to send samples until they’re pretty sure they have a real meteorite.
Generally, there are four signs that you have an asteroid. Due to the presence of metal in them (although in lower amounts in stony meteorites), they usually have a higher density and tend to attract magnets. They also often have an irregular shape, and especially stony meteorites have a fusion crust on their surface. This is because these objects burn and melt as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere.
If there are light-colored crystals (quartz is common on Earth, but not found anywhere else in the Solar System), bubbles (volcanic rocks on Earth have bubbles, but not space rocks), or streaks, you may encounter the thing is not a meteorite (if you scratch it, it shouldn’t leave a trace. A black or red line indicates that it is magnetite or hematite, the iron minerals not found in meteorites).
People who find an asteroid are advised to contact organizations such as university research institutes. However, actually seeing a meteorite fall may hold more scientific interest and value than the meteorite itself. If you see a falling meteorite, you should note where the fireball came from and where it continues to go. If you physically find a piece of it later, you should take a photo of the object before you pick it up and be sure to look around to see if there are any other pieces. Afterwards, it is recommended to contact the experts.