A Michigan man recently learned that this 10kg rock he used for decades as a doorstop on his farm was in fact a meteorite worth over $US100,000 ($141,700).
According to a Central Michigan University press release:
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, obtained the meteorite in 1988 when he bought a farm in Edmore, Michigan, about 30 miles [48km] southwest of Mount Pleasant.
As the farmer was showing him around the property, they went out to a shed. The man asked about the large, odd-looking rock that was holding the door open.
“A meteorite,” the farmer said matter-of-factly. He went on to say that in the 1930s he and his father saw it come down at night on their property “and it made a heck of a noise when it hit.” In the morning they found the crater and dug it out. It was still warm.
The farmer told the man that as it was part of the property, he could have it.
The man brought the rock into Central Michigan University geologist Mona Sirbescu earlier this year. She analysed a slice of the rock and performed an X-ray analysis. Its composition, 88 per cent iron and 12 per cent nickel, proved it authentic, and an analysis at the Smithsonian verified the conclusion.
A recent Michigan meteor event drove the man to the university to evaluate his rock’s worth.
You might remember that a widely documented fireball lit the winter sky over the state back in January. Hordes of meteorite hunters flocked to the state in search of a bit of the space gold (technically iron and nickel).
Meteorites can apparently go for anywhere from 50 cents ($0.71) to $US5 ($7) per gram, or more for ones containing rarer elements. The estimated $US100,000 ($141,700) price tag puts the Michigan man’s 10kg rock at $US10 ($14) per gram.
Both the Smithsonian and a Maine museum are considering purchasing the rock, according to Sirbescu.
Does this mean you should start digging through your old rock collection for potentially valuable meteorites? Probably not — Sirbescu said almost all of the rocks that people bring to her for inspection are not from space. But then again, isn’t the Earth itself just a big space rock? What is “value?” What are we?