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China's meteorite hunters: Adventurers hoping to get rich from rocks -

Date published: 2019-09-09
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.

In the early morning hours of Saturday and Sunday, the Leonid meteor shower will send shooting stars across the sky. But Saturday, about 3 a.m. ET, will have less moonlight obstructing the view of the meteors in the United States.
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SHANGHAI (CNN) - It is rare to find Zhang Bo without a metal detector, map and off-road vehicle.
Based in Shanghai, the self-funded meteorite-hunter spends his days researching meteor sightings and traveling the world to search for elusive -- and valuable -- fragments of rock.
Zhang, 37, is remarkably successful for someone with no formal training. He started researching meteorites after seeing a fireball streak across the sky in southern China in 2009.
In 2012, he began mounting expeditions into some of the world's most inhospitable areas in Russia, France, the Sahara Desert and in China's far-west Xinjiang, armed with a metal detector to scan the ground for rocks.
Since then, Zhang has plotted the location of meteorite landing sites. That, he says, has helped the Chinese authorities determine that the world's biggest meteor field, which is 425 kilometers long, is in Altay, in China's far-western Xinjiang region.
Zhang says he went to Altay around 20 times before finding anything significant. "Nine out of ten (times), you won't be able to find anything," he says.
China's meteorite hunters
China's vast plains and mountainous regions are popular hunting grounds for the nation's meteorite enthusiasts. Some of the world's biggest iron meteorites have been found there, including in Altay where Zhang competes with other hunters to find precious rocks.
Part of the appeal is the sense of adventure. Accessing remote areas requires serious equipment and planning -- and with it comes the thrill of possibly finding something that pushes forward science's understanding of the solar system.
For example, scientists found organic matter associated with water -- the origin of life -- in the "Zag and Monahans" meteors which cras ...

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— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) September 9, 2019