How to identify meteorites
Thousands of meteorites fall to Earth every year. It might surprise you that they are extremely valuable - sometimes more (gram for gram) than gold.
There’s a huge demand out there for these rare chunks of space debris.
Here’s our guide to finding and testing for meteorites.
Much like metal detecting, meteorite hunting is a hobby that often takes place in areas owned by government or landowners.
This means that if you find anything, officially it could belong to someone else. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to seek out public land where possible.
Look for wide open spaces
The most likely places for meteorites to fall and remain recoverable are large flat expanses with little human activity.
Moors, deserts and dry lake beds are all good places to look.
Meteorites usually appear black, so any area that black stones will be more pronounced (such as against sand or solid rock) are worth seeking out.
Use a magnet
As most meteorites contain iron, the vast majority are magnetic.
It’s a good idea to carry a magnet with you at all time, meaning if you ever come across a rock that looks interesting you can check it immediately.
If it shows signs of magnetism, there are a few tests you can carry out.
While often the only real way to be sure you have a meteorite is to send a sample off to a lab, there are a few things you can do to check it before you reach this stage.
Number one is to rub your suspected meteorite on a ceramic tile.
If it leaves no streak, you’ve ruled out hematite and magnetite (two minerals commonly mistaken for meteorites).
Number two is to file off a section of the stone until it is smooth. If the interior is flecked with metals, things are looking promising.
Researchers are very interested in hearing about and testing new meteorites, as they can offer up key data on the development of the solar system.
Get in touch with your nearest university’s science department and they will likely be able to test it for you.
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