Fireball turns night to day in China; How will meteorite hunters react?

Suspected meteorite lights up China; Will treasure hunters find it?

Meteorite (Representational picture) Pixabay

A suspected meteorite lit up the night sky over northeast China on Friday. If the bright object really was a meteorite, the country's treasure hunters will most likely try to find its fragments and sell them for hefty sums.

A huge fireball was spotted flying over the city of Songyuan in the province of Jilin in China on October 11. As per the eyewitness reports, the fireball appeared at around 12:16 am. Based on the several footages of the incident taken by security cameras and cars' dash cams, the flying object was so bright that it momentarily turned night into day.

According to the state-run news site CCTV, experts from the Purple Mountain Observer of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are currently reviewing clips of the fireball to determine if it was really caused by a meteorite.

The scientists from the agency will also try to determine where the object landed to verify its exact nature. So far, there are no reports yet regarding the discovery of meteorite fragments within the area where the fireball was spotted.

If the fireball turns out to be an actual meteorite, it could send the country's treasure hunters to the Jilin province to search for its fragments, just like what happened in 2018.

In June last year, a bright fireball was spotted over Menghai County in the Yunnan province. Aside from scientists, the incident also attracted villagers and out-of-towners into the area in search of meteorite fragments so they could sell them.

Meteorites are highly valuable because most of them are rich in iron. The prices of meteorite fragments are determined based on their weight or the amount of iron they contain.

According to Quartz, a small piece from the meteorite in Menghai, which weighed about 20 grams, was sold for around 24,000 yuan or $3,700. A larger fragment that weighed around 150 grams was sold for 200,000 yuan or about $31,200.

Jiang Wei, a meteorite expert who visited Menghai due to the fireball incident, said that the number of people hunting and selling the meteorite fragments has caused the price of the space rocks to go up.

"The price of the meteorite fragment has reached far beyond a reasonable price," Jiang said according to Quartz.

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