[meteorite-list] Arizona Meteorite Hunters - Part 1 of 2

From: Bernd Pauli HD <bernd.pauli_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:57 2004
Message-ID: <3B9D1794.8E0EE531_at_lehrer1.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de>

Meteorite hunters scour Earth for space rocks
(by Foster Klug, Associated Press, Sept. 10, 2001)

The sunshine sparkling on his meteorite-encrusted wedding ring and Van
Halen blaring from his car stereo, Bob Haag rolled into Portales, N.M.,
looking for space rocks. He had heard the news less than 24 hours
earlier: Rare, iron-rich stone meteorites had landed near the eastern
New Mexico town. Armed with a change of clothes, a pocket full of $100
bills and the promise of another big score, the self-styled "long-haired
hippie kid from Tucson" hit the road. He was in town before the stones
had time to cool. This is the world of the meteorite hunter, where a
handful of pros like Haag and legions of metal detector-toting amateurs
comb the Southwest in search of celestial tidbits more valuable than
gold. "Without a doubt, I have the best job in the galaxy," Haag said.
"But you don't have to be a rocket scientist. You do a little research,
find where meteorites have fallen, and just go there and look. That's
it. There's no magic." In 25 years of hunting meteorites, Haag has
followed "million-dollar falls," multiple meteorite drops that happen
about every 1,000 days, to Egypt, Russia, Japan and more than 50 other
countries. He has built an extensive collection, which he said has been
appraised at $25 million. "These are pieces of stars that have never
been seen on Earth before," Haag said. "It's so 2001: (A) Space Odyssey,
so Buck Rogers spaceman, so Marvin the Martian. These are today's new
treasures, and we don't even have to leave the planet to get them."
During his search in Portales in 1998, Haag started working the
residents immediately, handing out pictures of the meteorite and hanging
Wanted! posters at the town's barber shop and Wal-Mart promising a
reward. Soon, a crew of housewives, teenagers and retired guys were
scouring the desert scrub behind their houses. Haag shelled out about
$15,000 for three of the 60 meteorites that were eventually recovered,
including $5,000 to a kid on a bike. He guesses that the three rocks are
worth at least twice what he paid, though he hasn't sold them. Most
hunters agree that there's more to the quest than money. "The excitement
with meteorites is that these samples are parts of planets that once
existed . . . in outer space," said David Kring, professor of planetary
studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "Meteorites are a piece
of a very old puzzle, 4 1/2 billion years of the solar system's history
that can be partially unraveled by studying the meteorite ... in your
hand." The dry, wide-open spaces of the Sonora, Chihuahua and Mohave
deserts of the southwestern United States make for ideal meteorite
hunting terrain.
Received on Mon 10 Sep 2001 03:42:12 PM PDT

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