Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

Science is just so cool. Every day, all around us, the most astounding things are going on and being discovered. Despite the woes and worries of this modern age, we are also living in a time when technology has enabled us to bear witness to wonders undreamed of before, from atomic structures to the deaths of stars millions of light years away.

This week, Maine was treated to one of the coolest things of all: an actual space rock, AKA a meteorite, falling to earth.

This is a big deal for a lot of different reasons.

We all know about the massive meteorite crashing into earth as the most likely cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs – and a huge percentage of all other forms of life on earth as well. However, in one of nature’s many astounding double-edged quirks, the flip side of that is that many scientists theorize that it was another, much earlier meteorite that got life started on our planet in the first place.

No one has yet been able to conclusively prove that it was, in fact, a meteorite that kicked things off on Earth. However, NASA says that scientists, namely Associate Professor Yasuhiro Oba of Hokkaido University in Japan and Danny Glavin, have been able to extract chemical compounds needed for both DNA and RNA, the building blocks of life, in meteorite samples. So, it’s certainly possible.

That possibility – the proof that the raw materials are there – is what many were waiting for to complete the theory that made the most sense. Really exciting stuff.


The meteorite samples that housed the raw materials were found in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Now, we here in Maine have had our very own meteorite strike.

Who knows what space rocks may have landed here throughout the earth’s history, but this is the first instance of a meteorite in Maine being recorded by radar. By all accounts, it was a big one. According to, “Radar observed pieces of meteorite as large as 322 grams, or 11 oz., according to NASA, though larger rocks could have fallen as well. They are believed to have landed along a wooded stretch of land north of Calais that crosses the U.S.-Canada border, spanning from the town of Waite, Maine, to Canoose, New Brunswick.”

If you were in the right spot at the right time, you didn’t even need a telescope to see the giant fireball speeding through the sky.

Alas, I was not. I was home in the southern Midcoast region, so I missed out. However, I am really hopeful someone out there is able to locate a chunk, ideally a sizeable one, and NASA can have a go at unlocking its secrets.

I am clearly not alone in the hope a piece gets found. As I am sure you’ve heard by now, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel is offering a $25,000 reward to the first person to bring them a piece of the meteorite that is 1 kilogram or larger. Not too shabby.

The museum boasts a frankly impressive collection of rocks, including “the largest display of lunar and Martian meteorites on earth,” according to their website. I imagine if a piece of this one is found, it would join the display. In fact, their website has convinced me to pay a visit to the museum this summer, regardless if this particular meteorite has been added or not. We are, after all, a geology-rich state and this most recent addition has served as a reminder of how much more is out there to be discovered and understood.

I hope your curiosity is piqued as well, and to any rock hunters heading out to the border towns, I wish you bon chance.

The more we see, the more we learn, and the better we understand our universe and our place within it. Three cheers for space rocks!

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