Magazine article ROM Magazine

The Hunt for Extraterrestrials: What I Found in a Saskatchewan Farmer's Field

Magazine article ROM Magazine

The Hunt for Extraterrestrials: What I Found in a Saskatchewan Farmer's Field

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

On November 20, 2008, at 5:26 pm, as many were making their way home after work, thousands of people in central Canada witnessed a burning fireball streak across the sky. Based on the size of the fireball, which was captured on security cameras and private video recorders as well as the network of cameras that monitor such events in Canada, scientists estimated that the meteorite fall could weigh as much as 10 tonnes.

Meteorites range in value from pennies a gram to upwards of thousands of dollars a gram, depending on the rarity of the material. And if they fall on your property, they belong to you, so everyone in the prairies was on the lookout for the black rocks from the sky.

A team led by professor Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary's Department of Geoscience discovered the first piece of the fall--dubbed the Buzzard Coulee fall. It was spotted by graduate student Ellen Milley in agricultural land along the Battle River where the team calculated the debris would be found. More than a thousand additional pieces have since been recovered, making this the largest Canadian fall by piece count. The largest meteorite weighed in at 13 kg--about the size of an adult's head.

This May I had the opportunity to join in the ongoing search near Lone Rock, Saskatchewan. Some meteorites were recovered last fall, but we had to wait for the snow to melt before we could search again. Off a series of dirt roads along the Saskatchewan-Alberta border I met up with Dr. …

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