There's a new rush on in California's gold rush country. This time, they're prospecting for meteorites.
A minivan-sized meteor blew up over northern California on Sunday morning, and now everyone from NASA scientists to schoolkids is looking for fragments of the fireball – called meteorites once they hit the ground – in the Sierra Nevada towns of Coloma and Lotus.
“People used to pull the gold out of the ground. Now, things fall out of the sky,” NASA research astrophysicist Scott Sandford told CNN affiliate KTXL in Sacramento. “Lucky place, I guess.”
The site where the first meteorites were found Wednesday is just a mile from where gold was first found at Sutter's Mill in Coloma in 1848, CNN affiliate KXTV reported.
Meteorite hunter Robert Ward rushed from his home in Prescott, Arizona, to northern California after hearing of the explosion on Sunday and found fragments in a park. He told CNN affiliate KOVR that these fragments are the first of their kind to fall to Earth since the 1960s.
And they are of extreme importance to scientists, he said.
"There's particles inside this meteorite that predate our sun," Ward said.
"It contains complex amino acids. It contains organic molecules. This thing is just a treasure trove of data for scientists," Ward told KXTV.
NASA scientist Peter Jenniskens found fragments in the park's parking lot, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. The fragment had been split into smaller pieces after it was run over by a vehicle, he told the Chronicle.
"We need to find more fragments so we can begin to understand how it broke apart and what was inside it," the Chronicle quoted Jenniskens as saying.
"A primitive type of meteorite can tell us an awful lot about the early stages of our solar system, so it is scientific gold in that respect," Sandford told KXTV.
And now that matter from the early universe is scattered over the California landscape.
Local elementary school students Alvin Wolf and Dustin Bunge were among those combing Henningsen Lotus Park on Wednesday.
"We'd probably sell it. Keep it in a bag and if NASA wanted to do stuff on it," they told KXTV.
NASA scientists are organizing a meteorite search for Saturday in Henningsen Lotus Park, KXTL reports.
In the meantime, Ward and others will keep searching.
"There's pieces out there in people's backyards," Ward said. "They just have to get out there and find them."
"It's like a giant easter egg hunt for adults," Randy Freeman of Garden Valley, California, told KXTV.
Meteor was size of a minivan
That's pretty cool, I wish I was out there to go hunting for some of them. It would be kind of neat to be able to hold a piece of mineral older than our solar system.
I suppose we should be honored or thankful to have front row seats to 2012. to say that we were there when the change occured, and what we witnessed leading up to the event. A nice warm winter was a "pleasant" event, the long hot summer wont be, but... the number of Meteor strikes will scare many, the catastrophic tornado and hurrican season will not be pleasureable., but for many it will be exciting (hey is G. Carlin still around?)
Love the website
videos are great, but pics are grainy,keep up the good work
psst, nothing will happen.
Most everyone agrees nothing will happen but lets just imagine something did happen. All those who
said nothing would happen would be running around like panicked little rabbits! That would be a sight to see! Just saying . . .
What a find. I found pieces of the meteorite and have them for sale on eBay.
Sarllie .. you are an idiot for selling something of great scientific importance .
Why do think ppl are looking for it or pieces of it? To make some money regardless of the find.
There's particles inside this meteorite that predate our sun? Of course they are! The vast majority of heavy elements predate our Sun, including those in our own bodies!
the vast majority? ALL of them pre-date our sun. but you can, I assume, grasp the significance of pre-solar * particles* – actual tangible articles you could view under a microscope – and atoms.
One remains unchanged since it's formation, the other not.
Idaknow why my posts are not being posted?
Brings to mind the concept of asteroid mining. If private industry could get a technological jump on it, it would definitly be the next big thing. Another gold rush of sorts, only in space. Imagine if we found another mineral or metal that would replace all of the dirty carbon based power sources we have here on Earth?Or liquid for that matter.Hmmmmm..............
so much money is up in space and a company is trying to get to it now.
From the description, A Carbonaceous Chondrite. Very interesting scientifically for the reasons in the article. The last fall of this kind was in Allende Chile in the early Sixtys. Lots of fragments of that one in collections. The most beautiful are Pallasites; Part metal & part Olivine semi-precious gemstone. I expect NASA wants the pieces for free; They are worth more than Gold on a weight basis to any serious collector.
Look for broken pieces of grey stone with a possible crust of brown or black. Round small spherical structures thru a hand lens (Chondrules).
Man wish I was in CA and found a big chunk of it..
I live in Fremont, Ca and at about 2am Sunday saw two flashes out of the northeast, in the area of the lyra system. These sighting confirms the astrologers suggestion where to look out for the showers. Used the astronomy app
Wouldn't be something if those meteorite searchers found a real Minivanburied buried half way in a crator, in the ground!!!!!!!!!
A meteorite the size of a minivan! Then why are some people laughing at James Cameron's asteroid mining? C'mon skeptics wake up!!!
Yes, it is true that I am on a quest to find the meteorite that crashed in that liberal cesspool California. After I stopped at a legal and 100% legit back doctor and on-site pharmacy I was on my way to find that big flaming mass.
Why is Rush Limbaugh on to find fragments of California meteor? He might be thinking it is an Obama conspiracy.
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