What should you do if you found a meteorite?
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If you think that you found a real meteorite, then you should absolutely document the find situation in the best possible way. Photographs and video records can be very helpful, especially if it is actually a meteorite in the end. The position of the place of discovery must be exactly specified. But keep calm, because from experience we can say that a sporadic finding was not a meteorite in 99,9 % of all cases. So don’t be too disappointed if the analysed material is of terrestrial origin.
A found object should be pictured in good daylight from all sides. You must be able to answer the question of ferromagnetism, i.e. does the magnet cling to the object or does it not. The size and weight should be measured. Please do not begin to break up the found object on location, because that would be very annoying in case of a real meteorite. At last you are not a geologist, who is looking for ores and minerals! Often you can decide whether it is a real meteorite or not, without seeing the inside.
So in any case please contact specialists for meteoritic science with your unmodified finding object. These people will always tell you the next step to investigate and analyse the meteorite suspicious material in a proper and careful way. Ultimately a real meteorite always should be analysed by a mineralogical institute so that it will even scientifically registered and acclaimed.
If a meteorite was found, which could be fallen only recently then some very interesting measurements would be possible. Of course first of all, the finding situation on-site is important. Position and vicinity must be documented in a verifiable way, i.e. the finding position must be precisely localised by GPS and the meteorite should be first photographed from different perspectives in unchanged and unaffected condition.
If this is done, please dry up the meteorite carefully and do not preserve the specimen in a hermetic packaging for a long period of time. It should be transitional stored as dry as possible. Please contact us or another institute for meteoritic sciences, in order to initiate further investigations and analyses.
First freshly fallen meteorites will be analysed for radionuclides. Therefor there are very few special devices, which are spread all over Europe. On the one hand you have to measure depth the metal isotopes in a depth laboratory. Other measurements on the other hand will analyse the radionuclides of the noble gases in meteorites.
Later morphological, mineralogical and petrological analyses are accomplished on meteorites. At least by now one little piece of material is cutting off in order to analyse this sample. So the involved institute will report the meteorite find to the Meteoritical Society (an international scientific organization with a focus on meteoritic science), whereas, according to law, a material sample in the announcing laboratory must remain.
Who now is the legal owner of the finding meteorites, this is determining by relevant national laws.