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Dec 11, 2013 8:53 PM by John Patrick

Meteorite hunters looking for help from the public

TUCSON - Meteorite hunters continue to search for fireball fragments on Tucson's northwest side.

People from five different states across the southwest reported seeing the bright fireball Tuesday evening but researchers say they have reason to believe its final resting place may be on Tucson's northwest side.

Resident's like Eva Valamis and Barry Bazan who witnessed the meteor's sonic boom and bright light in the sky say they agree with researcher's that fragments could be right in their backyard.

"It was a sound in-between thunder, a crash and glass breaking but I didn't think anything of it until now," explains Valamis.

Bazan says, "It reminded me of a small green sun with some highlights of orange around it."

By using eye witness reports and Doppler radar imagery meteorite hunter and volunteer for the Chicago Field Museum, Robert Ward, was able to say with some certainty that fragments could be found on Tucson's northwest side.

"Essentially the Doppler radar thinks the returns are hail. It shows it as an elongated hail image like you would see during a hail storm. And based on that data we believe that there are stones in this area." explains Ward.

The researchers continue to try to pin point exactly where the meteorites may be found but there initial search location is a square area from Ina Road north to Twin Peaks Road and from I-10 east to Thornydale.

They want the publics help searching for these meteorites in places like their yards and on their roofs. Ward says he would expect the meteorites to look like black and burnt stones between the size of a peanut and golf ball. A good test to see if it is a meteorite would be to check if it sticks to a magnet.

"You know anything that's black and burnt and looks like it came from outer space well it's worth having someone to take a look at it," says Ward.

Researchers say even small meteorites can fetch some big bucks depending on their content. According to Dr. Vishnu Reddy with the Planetary Science Institute some maybe worth a lot of money but all meteorites are important to science.

"It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to get a sample off an asteroid. Here we have a free sample return mission if we get the sample really quickly," explains Dr. Reddy.

If you think you have found a meteorite in your backyard you can contact Robert Ward by visiting his website at IronFromtheSky.com or Dr. Vishnu Reddy at psi.edu.

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