FAQs

 

Frequently asked questions about meteorites

If you don't find your question answered, contact us- we will be glad to help you further!


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1. What is a meteorite?

A meteorite is a piece of cosmic matter that - attracted by the gravity of our planet - fell on Earth. Most meteorites come from the area of the asteroide belt between Mars and Jupiter. Some few also come from planets like Mars or the Moon. For further information see origin.

 

2. What do meteorites consist of?

The cosistency of the different meteorites is as different as their origin. Nevertheless one generally can say that they, like earthly rock, consist of different minerals and metals, above all of iron. One distinguishes them according to mineral consistencies as Iron, Stony-iron - and Stony-meteorites. These meteorite types are further divided, according to chemical differences, into classes and groups. In classification they are individually described.

 

3. How do I recognize a meteorite?

Meteorites can look quite different according to type, weathering degree and status. If you did't observe a meteorite when it fell down or if it has not just punctured the roof of your house, there are still some features, that will help to distinguish a real meteorite from strangely formed earthly rock or weathered artefacts.
The most important feature is the dark, often black fusion crust that a meteorite gets on its passage through the atmosphere. In stony meteorites, the usually not even millimeterthick crust clearly contrasts from the lighter color of its interior and suggests the find of a meteorite.Still stronger hints are the often clearly visible streamlines in the fusion crust, that indicate the straight flight of the meteorite when crossing the atmosphere. Also meteorites often develop so-called "thumbprints": Dents and dips that look like thumb prints in the fusion crust.
The magnetic characteristics are a further important, but not-exclusive feature. Most meteorite finds are iron meteorites that even in a state of oxidation become strongly attracted by magnets. But also the most common meteorites, the ordinary Chondrites, get attracted by magnets slightly to strong because of their high iron content. In the cutting of such a meteorite, one can see metallic shining iron particles as well as numerous round structures- the so-called chondrules that gave them the name "Chondrites".
If some of these features are there, you have a good chance to have found a meteorite. But watch out: in densely populated zones like in europe there is always the danger to mistake an iron meteorite with rusted duds, bombs and granates from both world wars.Therefore please be careful!

 

4. Whom do I consult if I think that I have found a meteorite?

In most university cities, there are mineralogical institutes that with some test quickly find out, whether the find is a meteorite. However you can also contact us and send us a sample of the material. If we come to the conclusion, that it actually could be a meteorite, we will then send the sample by request to a renowned institute for more exact analysis.

 

5. Where do meteorites get their names from?

Meteorites are mainly named according to the name of the place of their find or after the name of the place, that lies next to it. Thus the meteorite, that 1492 fell in the vicinity of the city of Ensisheim in Elsass is simply named "Ensisheim". In finds from little populated zones like the Sahara, one takes the name of the respective desert and adds a number, that distinguishes the meteorite from all other finds of this zone. For example the Howardite, that we found in the Libyan Hammadah-al-Hamra-desert, is named Hammadah al Hamra 285 or shortly HaH 285. These names are all acknowledged by an international committee, the nomenclature committee of the Meteoritical Society whereby new finds and falls once a year get published in the Meteoritical bulletin.

 

6. How does one know that certain meteorites really come from the moon or from Mars?

As far as the moon meteorites go, the answer is simple: from the Apollo-moon flights we have enough comparing material for being able to say with certainty that these meteorites really come from the moon. The research of the unique proportions of isotopen, that both differ from the earthly isotopenproportions as well as from that of other meteorites - as well as the mineral consistency - allow no other conclusion!
In case of the Mars meteorites, unfortunately we still have no corresponding material on earth, but the space probes of the Viking-series as well as the recently finished "Pathfinder" mission did send enough data from Mars to allow this conclusion. They found little gasbubbles in some Mars meteorites, whose contents correspond exactly with the Mars atmosphere , which in its consistency clearly distinguishes from our atmosphere or the atmosphere of other planets like from Venus. Further explanations to this you can find in in origin.

 

7. Can one buy meteorites, and if yes, where?

All over the world there are plenty of meteorite dealers which have a multitude of different meteorites in their sortiment. We also offer on our salespage a few meteorites. Here you have the advantage to buy directly from the finder, a guarantee for the authenticity of the material and also often cheaper than from the reseller.
If you want to build up a meteorite collection or if you simply want to have the chance to admire a piece of extraterrestial matter or just to hold it in the hands, if you are in Europe it is worthwhile to visit one of the greater mineralmarkets and fairs, for example in Munich or in Saint Marie aux mines in Elsass/France. There not only the greatest mineral bidders meat each year, but also meteorite dealers and collectors. Moreover there are also special meteorite trades of which in the germanspeaking region the annual fair in Gifhorn in Hannover as well as the meteorite exchange in Ensisheim, Elsass have to be mentioned. In Ensisheim, you can have a look at the famous "thunder stone of Ensisheim" and perhaps you can also acquire a little piece of this historic jewel from one of the numerous dealers.

 

8. Which are the most expensive meteorites and which are the cheapest ones?

The price of a meteorite basically is a result of it's rarity. Spectacular falls are usually priced higher than just simple finds, and the existence of an intact fusion crust as well as a relative "freshness" of the material - with only little weathering- usually increase the price. Many meteorites are also especially highly priced based on special circumstances of its fall as e.g. the meteorite of Peekskill , that by its classification is an ordinary Chondrite, but had the good fortune to land on the motor hood of a parking vehicle.
Based on their rarity and origin, the moon meteorites are the most expensive known things that one can get at all. Tiny bits of the new finds one can aquire for the bargainprice of about 1400 € per gram.Normally the prices for the lunar material heavily desired by collectors and investors range between 500 and 120.000 €/g! Not quite as expensive are the Mars meteorites, which one can get with some good luck already from 500 €/g onwards. Yet also here are, depending on availability and historical meaning of the individual fall, no fixed price boundaries. Thus for the unique meteorite of Chassigny, France, which - if at all- usually is for sale just in tiny fragments, prices go beyond 50.000 €/g!

There are also really reasonable priced stone and iron meteorites that can be afforded also with little money. With about 1 € per gram, the meteorites of Gibeon and Sikhote are the lowest priced iron meteorites on the market, and similar priced are also many of the ordinary Chondrites, that were found during the last years in large numbers in the deserts of North Africa and Oman. Whom these prices still appear too high, it must be said that on earth there is far more gold or diamonds as meteorites - and it always was the rarity and availability of a material, that determined its price!

 

9. Is there a kind of market survey or a possibility to compare the prices?

Yes, in the independent Meteorite Price Guide you will find not only the current prices for all known meteorite types and classes, but also details about their present availability on the market. This overview is an indispensable friend for each newby as also for the learned meteorite collector. Yet one should keep in mind that there are time and again meteorites, which reach higher prices on the basis of peculiarities (for example the fall of Peekskill) and therefore don't suit into such a simple scheme. Here the golden rule of the market is:always compare prices before you buy something!