Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold hunt for visitors from outer space, but they aren’t looking for little green men. Their treasure is of the geologic sort: meteorites that strike Earth, carrying clues to astronomical and planetary development in the universe. The pair share their adventures in the Science Channel’s TV series Meteorite Men. We checked in with them to get their tips and insights for DIY meteorite hunters.
Q: What’s the simplest form of meteorite hunting that the DIY enthusiast can tackle?
A: Meteorites fall randomly over the entire surface of the Earth, so theoretically you could search for them anywhere. The vast majority of meteorites contain a large amount of iron, which rusts in humid environments, eventually causing the meteorite to decompose. Head out to a barren area that’s devoid of vegetation, with few indigenous rocks, and see if you can spot anything unusual.
Q: What kind of research should you do before setting out on a meteorite hunt?
A: Many types of common Earth rocks are frequently mistaken for meteorites. Become familiar with what meteorites look like, and also practice a few simple field tests that can help in identifying suspected space rocks. Our Guide to Meteorite Identification [aerolite.org/found-a-meteorite.htm] is a good place to start.
Q: What kind of meteorite-hunting tools can you make at home, instead of having to purchase them?
A: We end up designing and building much of the equipment that we use in the field. The simplest tool, and one of the most effective, is a magnet cane. It’s basically a walking stick with a powerful magnet affixed to one end. When you’re hiking 10 or 15 miles a day, keeping your eyes peeled for unusual-looking rocks, it’s a time saver and an energy saver if you don’t have to bend down and pick up every one of them.
For an extended interview with the Meteorite Men, visit: makezine.com/24/space