How can I tell if I found a meteorite?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Well, let me start off by saying that finding a meteorite can be an incredibly exciting experience! I’ve always been fascinated by space and the idea that a piece of it could land right here on Earth is just mind-blowing to me. So, if you think you’ve found a meteorite, here are a few things you can look out for to help confirm your discovery.

Firstly, let’s talk about density. Meteorites are usually quite heavy for their size. This is because they often contain metallic iron and dense minerals. So, if the rock you found feels surprisingly heavy, that could be a good sign. Of course, it’s important to note that not all heavy rocks are meteorites, so we’ll need to consider some other factors as well.

Next, let’s talk about magnetism. Most meteorites contain metallic iron, which means that a magnet will often stick to them. If you have a magnet handy, try seeing if it sticks to the rock you found. If it does, there’s a good chance that you’ve stumbled upon a meteorite. However, it’s worth mentioning that not all meteorites are strongly magnetic, so this test alone isn’t conclusive.

Another property to consider is the presence of a fusion crust. When a meteorite enters Earth’s atmosphere, it heats up and forms a thin, black crust on its surface. This fusion crust is usually smooth and can sometimes appear shiny. If the rock you found has this characteristic crust, it’s a strong indication that it could be a meteorite.

In addition to these physical properties, you can also consider the location where you found the rock. Meteorites are often found in areas with little to no terrestrial rocks, such as deserts or Antarctica. If you found the rock in such a location, it increases the likelihood of it being a meteorite.

Now, it’s important to remember that I’m not a meteorite expert, just an enthusiast. If you truly believe you’ve found a meteorite, it’s always a good idea to consult with professionals who can further analyze and confirm your discovery. There are numerous organizations and experts who specialize in meteorite identification, and they can provide you with the necessary guidance and expertise.

Identifying a meteorite can be a thrilling endeavor. By considering properties such as density, magnetism, fusion crust, and location, you can gather clues that may point towards your rock being a meteorite. However, it’s always best to seek professional advice to obtain a definitive answer. Happy meteorite hunting!