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Maine museum offers $25,000 for space rock fragments

ANDREW LIMBONG, HOST:

If you're listening from the northeastern U.S. and you're looking for an excuse to get outside, here's an activity that might even make you some money.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum is offering a $25,000 reward for a hunk of the space rock that came hurtling to Earth over the weekend. The meteorite triggered a sonic boom and caused a fireball so bright it was visible in broad daylight from parts of Canada and Maine.

LIMBONG: Now, if you're wondering where to look, NASA has mapped out a trail based on radar data. Here's Darryl Pitt, who heads the meteorite division at the museum.

DARRYL PITT: The meteorites can be found in what's a really well-defined and constrained ellipse that's about a mile, a mile and a half wide that extends from Waite, Maine, to Canoose, New Brunswick.

SUMMERS: Now, Pitt says obtaining a meteorite that actually landed in Maine would be a great addition to the museum's roughly 2,000 space rocks.

LIMBONG: So how do you tell a space rock from a regular old rock?

PITT: They typically are black. They have a smooth exterior surface. It's toasted as a result of frictional heating with the atmosphere. It might have a slightly stippled (ph) surface, typically attracted to magnets.

LIMBONG: And you got to act fast. The $25,000 reward will go to the first person to bring in a fragment weighing at least one kilogram - that's about 2.2 pounds - though the museum will buy some smaller chunks, too.

SUMMERS: Just remember to ask permission before you look on private property.

LIMBONG: Happy meteorite hunting.

(SOUNDBITE OF ED SHEERAN SONG, "EYES CLOSED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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