Largest pallasite meteorite on display at TJC

Published: Nov. 16, 2011 at 7:08 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2011 at 1:40 PM CST
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By Jamey Boyum

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - You've probably seen them streaking through the sky at night..or during the day if you're lucky. But, have you ever seen a shooting star after it hits the ground?

For the next several weeks you can. Tyler Junior College has one of the largest meteors of its kind on display, and for a few dollars you can experience something not of this world.

According to scientists, the last time this monster moved on its own there were mastodons roaming North America. Now it takes something with the strength of a mastodon to move this 14 hundred pound monster.

"Had a specially made engine hoist to lift it and place it on the stand," said Phil Mani.

It's the world's biggest oriented pallasite. Those are just big words that mean it faced the same direction when it burned through the earth's atmosphere, which makes it extremely rare.

"Found it in southwestern Kansas just outside of Greensburg on October 16th 2005. This one was found between seven and a half and ten feet below the soil surface, just with a little beep of the metal detector and a lot of digging," Phil said.

Most thought this area in Kansas had been picked clean of meteorites, but Phil Mani decided to give it another go with better equipment, and a backhoe.  He made a heavy score. Literally.  Using a truck scale and some math, they got its weight: 1,430 pounds.

This smaller meteorite, also owned by Phil, is similar to the big one.

"It's like most reporters. Really dense," I observed, picking it up.

NASA studied the dome shape on meteors like this one to come design the heat shield used on space capsules. Some lucky seventh graders got to see the big unveiling.

"It's kind of weird touching a part of outer space because, you know I've never flown out of the atmosphere or anything," said Christian.

Hmm. Neither have I come to think of it. So, I had to touch it too. I just hope hand sanitizer kills space bugs.

After the alien's visit at TJC the Brenham meteorite will begin a world tour starting in Australia. It won't orbit back this way for another ten years.  It can be seen now at the Center for Earth and Space Science Education on the TJC campus.

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