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Go Meteorite Hunting

By:b hirst

Outback Travel Adventures in NM What Can You Do About Drop-Ins?

Meteorites from outer space? Right now one is entering the atmosphere somewhere. Each year tens of thousands of meteorites hit the earth. One asteroid that showed movement not around the sun but towards Earth about two years ago has now made it to the top of the astronomers list of those to watch. This particular "NEO," or Near Earth Object, has odds of impact as it crosses our path estimated to be about 1-in-1,410 on May 4, 2102. That's a .071% chance.

The asteroid, known as 2004 VD17, is the only one rated as high as a 2 on the "Torino Scale," a zero-to-10 ranking of space-rock risk. Zero is for zero risk, no apparent risk, of impact with the Earth. That makes sense. A 10 would mean impact is expected and we're all in trouble. The deepest trouble ever. Is there absolutely nothing we, as individuals, can do?

Like shooting pool, it's all angles. Angles measured in astronomy are fractions of fractions of a degree, so understandably the most teeny-tiny difference can translate into an oncoming space object missing us by millions of miles. Usually, the calculated odds of impact go down as the space object gets closer - the angles to measure get larger and easier to see, and the speed gets easier to measure too. Usually.

If asteroid 2004 VD17 hits the Earth, it will be terminal for all life as we know it. Maybe, just maybe, some forms of bacteria will survive. Yippee. So what can you do about drop-ins from space? Look for the smaller ones and their fragments which have landed. You see? You can do something about them... Come collect them at our ranches. Space rock is worth really big dollars to the finders. And saying really big dollars is understating the situation like you wouldn't believe, so read on and see how big...

Filet Mignon steaks from a gourmet butcher at $34.99 per pound. Piffle. Imagine something way, way, way more valuable. In fact, meteorites and their fragments are worth way more than gold. Way more than even platinum. Way more than even rhodium at about $40,000 or so per pound (Regular Avoirdupois pounds like meat) based on, or based off, the $3,060 per Troy ounce price as of now, early March, 2006. You might say meteorites are the truest black gold. Crude oil, the original "black gold," is at record prices of $63 per barrel. Yet, with 42 gallons in the standardized olden days barrel, the arithmetic comes out to merely a measly 18 cents a pound. "Liquid coal," that's all oil is. Can we let the title "black gold" be for something worth only pennies-a-pound? Can we, when there's space rock on the ground worth more than diamonds?

It's a fact. Meteorites are worth more than most "hot rocks." Well, most hot rocks anyway. Small diamonds, uncut diamonds, and cloudy low-quality diamonds, are worth as little as $200 per carat. We need just a little more arithmetic here, with 5 carats in a gram and 454 grams in a pound, to find these diamonds are worth $454,000 a pound therefore. About a half a million dollars for one li'l ol' pound of not-so-good diamonds! Meteorites and meteorite fragments, even little specks of these "space droppings," sell for $300 per gram and more. A 1-pound space rock can be worth a million dollars. $1,000,000. Oy.

Haven't you ever gone on a vacation you wanted to be "unique" and "special?" Well, this one is honestly "out of this world" if you find a meteorite. You also will be able to say that you entered the Twilight Zone. When you come to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, a town which chose an out of this world name to begin with, you can visit the new tourist space station. It's a project that will launch tourists "out of this world" into space. And a few miles east is where you'll find Roswell, famous for alien drop-ins since 1947.

All you have to do is some healthy walking to find your space rocks. Walk to profit physically for certain and financially possibly too. Hunts don't have to be bone-chilling adventures to the Antarctic where many searches are done for meteorites that have just arrived. The ground there may be flat and open with expanses of white that highlight dark space rocks before they're covered over, but the temperature is 50 below zero with 50 mile per hour winds. Hunting meteorites doesn't have to be like hunting polar bears.

Meteors enter the earth's atmosphere everywhere. They impact everywhere. The trick in finding them is simply to look where their burned up remains have a good chance of being found. Duh. Our ranches are as wide open and flat as the Antarctic. Our loose beige to light brown surface can contrast the dark black meteorite rocks plenty well enough, only we're readily accessible by car with civilization, even tourist attractions, just miles away in a much more comfortable climate. Again, the trick to finding meteorites is to look where they have been concentrated by the Earth's natural forces and where they have not been destroyed by weathering. This means deserts are a grand place to search for meteorites. Deserts can change over the centuries, but deserts don't often have major weathering like rainy areas do. How could you look in a jungle or forest anyway?

So, if you want to find meteorites come to our Truth or Consequences ranches. Adjacent to the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, there are trillions and trillions of terrestrial rocks (original Earth rocks) for each meteorite that could be there. Metal detectors are used by many professional meteorite hunters around the world because they can easily distinguish between rocks that have iron and those that don't, ferrous and non-ferrous rocks. Most all meteorites are ferrous, but this way, only the ferrous meteorites will be found by metal detectors. Modern metal detectors can compensate for dominant background rocks, enhancing their ability to find meteorites. Metal detectors create a constant hum which increases in volume and pitch as iron-rich objects are passed closely.

You may find "exciting rocks" which produced a strong signal that is a false positive in a metal detector. But bringing home a one-of-a-kind paperweight or bookend with a wonderful story to go with it isn't such a bad memento from any vacation, don't you agree? Even if you don't bring home a meteorite, you'll bring home some other interesting rocks and that we know we can guarantee. "Detecting" requires concentration, using all your senses, just like fishing and golf. You will see lots and lots of "exciting rocks." As you keep "an eye out" for potential meteorites, you'll see interesting rocks which you find pretty, or you might find an Indian relic, or some other historical item, maybe even a fossil. It seems that the best way to find meteorites from our ranches is to use a combination of metal detecting and good "old-fashioned shoe-leather footsearch eyeballing." Yup.

Your outdoors, possibly "out of this world," vacation will be in weather that is not hard to predict in the Truth or Consequences area. They say on Mount Washington, in New Hampshire, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute..." In south central New Mexico, it's the opposite, the weather is quite comfortable except in the hot months from May to October. Don't bother to bring a rain coat, it only rains 10 inches per year. The winters are mild indeed. The temperature may get down to 10 degrees, but not for many days of the year. A clear sky with a gentle breeze is the norm.

Meteorites aren't only from asteroids, there have been ejections of bits of the moon and even 146 pounds of total Mars "drop-ins" have landed on the Earth.

A final fun factoid - for all of last year, the entire production of 2005 from the De Beers monopoly was only 13,800 pounds of diamonds.

Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/

You can see Bill's website for unusual travelers at www.huntingrelics.com

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