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Surprising Science

The Meteorite Black Market

As more meteorites have been discovered in recent years, interest in them has flourished and an illegal sales market has boomed—much to the dismay of scientists who want to study them. 

“We have at our disposal a very limited number of [meteorite and asteroid] specimens to study and exhibit,” said Dr. Mario Di Martino, who led an exhibition team to investigate the Gebel Kamil meteorite site in Egypt in 2009. Before his team’s investigation could begin, however, the meteorites were found by someone else and later sold privately in France. “He and other members of the Gebel Kamil crater discovery team, he added, don’t have the money to buy them on the flourishing black market.” Some meteorite adventurers, however, turn to experts for analysis which cause some, including Carl B. Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, to argue the ambition of the private sector is once again aiding sluggish public research.


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