Farmer Finds Rare Meteorite

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It wasn't a goose that laid a golden egg for one Missouri farmer — it was an asteroid.

Scientists are analyzing an extremely rare meteorite found by a farmer in a tiny Missouri town called Conception Junction (population 202), reports Washington University in St. Louis, which helped identify the rock.

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An unnamed farmer had found the unusually heavy stone buried in the side of a hill. He sawed off the end of the stone and realized he had something that didn't come from Earth.

The metal rock is studded on the inside with green olivine crystals. It is one of only 20 so-called pallasite meteorites that have been found in the United States.

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These types of meteorites are believed to be fragments of large asteroids that had enough internal heat to begin melting, which allowed heavy metals to sink and form a core, while lighter elements became part of the rocky surface.

Pallasites are believed to come from the area where an asteroid's metal core transitions to olivine in its lower mantle.

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Scientists believe the Conception Junction meteorite was once part of an asteroid that flew in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, until it was nudged toward the inner solar system by Jupiter's gravity field.

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Sliced and polished, the stone, which is now in the hands of private collectors, is worth about $200 a gram.

(Washington University in St. Louis geochemist Randy Korotev with the Conception Junction meteorite. His lab analyzed the olivine crystals in the rock. Credit: Dave Gheesling/WUSTL)