Meteorite hunters say big payday may be on the ground east of Dallas

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 8:02 PM

DALLAS - The meteor that passed over the Dallas-Fort Worth area last night may have left a pricey prize on the ground, and a number of hunters are working to track it down.

Meteor hunters use similar technology to that in the News 8 weather center, including radars and skycams, then take all of that data plus witness accounts and narrow it down to a small area to try to find a needle in a haystack.

But it could be a big needle.

"This is going to be a huge, huge meteorite," said meteor hunter McCartney Taylor. "I think that it was at least the size of an SUV when it came into the atmosphere. It was large enough and it fragmented enough to where it was visible, [so] it could have even been the size of a bus."

Taylor is on his way to Dallas from his Austin home to track down the meteor. He said the witness accounts and data show there is a good chance there will be something to find.

"When you hear a sonic boom, that means that it survived low enough to where you can hear it," Taylor said. "So we're extremely, extremely excited that we probably have material on the ground, east of Dallas."

So far, experts believe that if something is on the ground, it likely touched down somewhere in Kaufman or Hunt Counties. Police in both areas tell News 8 they haven't received reports of anything being found, but thousands in the area are talking about what they saw in chat rooms and meteor web sites.

It is causing the meteorite's value to skyrocket.

"The intrinsic value of a meteorite is $5 as a doorstop," Taylor said, holding a meteorite of his own. "But because it's collectable, and because 'my wife saw it, or because my son saw it, I've go to have it.' So it gets driven up to some pretty silly levels."

It could reach tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars if the meteor is from Mars or from the moon. The largest chuck that survived, called the main mass, is what hunters like Taylor are looking for.

"That main mass could be 50 pounds," Taylor said. "So whoever's property that landed on just got a big payday."

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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