The meteorite that crashed down in Banteay Meanchey province on Monday morning has sparked interest from at least one overseas collector willing to pay cash for what could possibly be a rather valuable 4.5-kg lump of space rock.
Slamming into a rice field in Thmar Pouk district with the impact of an artillery shell and heated enough to set grass in the vicinity ablaze, the meteorite evoked shock and superstitious awe among local farmers who handed it over to authorities.
On Thursday, a collector in the US offered $1,000 to whoever is currently “holding the meteorite”—either a villager or Banteay Meanchey’s police chief.
The collector also offered $500 for anyone who could help secure the purchase, according to the e-mail message.
But at the going rate for space debris, that would be a steal.
Meteorites can fetch anywhere from $1 to $1,000 per gram. The most rare and valuable meteorite is Martian rock, according to http://www.space.com.
Those prices would put a minimum value of $4,500 on the Banteay Meanchey find.
Banteay Meanchey police Chief Sok Sareth said on Thursday that the meteorite was not for sale as it now belonged to the government.
Villagers in Kouk Samroang, where the meteorite was found, asked to take it back on Thursday for a religious ceremony, but their request was denied, said provincial police officer Sam Kosal.
The villagers believe the rock flew from the Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, but police explained that the meteorite was a natural phenomena, Sam Kosal said.
“The Ministry of Interior asked for it to be sent to the ministry and we will send it in the near future,” he added.