Last week, a meteor blew apart over Russia's Chelyabinsk region, generating a shockwave that injured hundreds and caused millions of dollars in damage. The disintegrating fireball strewed bits and pieces of itself over the country's Ural mountains, some of which researchers now claim to have recovered. But scientists aren't the only ones interested in the fragmented space rock — meteorite hunters have reportedly taken to the Urals' icy slopes in droves in search of riches, in what's being billed as a "meteorite rush."
One amateur space enthusiast estimated chunks could be worth anything up to 66,000 roubles ($2,200) per gram - more than 40 times the current cost of gold.
"The price is hard to say yet ... The fewer meteorites that are recovered, the higher their price," said Dmitry Kachkalin, a member of the Russian Society of Amateur Meteorite Lovers. Meteorites are parts of a meteor that have fallen to earth.
Scientists at the Urals Federal University were the first to announce a significant find - 53 small, stony, black objects around Lake Chebarkul, near Chelyabinsk, which tests confirmed were small meteorites.
The fragments were only 0.5 to 1 cm (0.2 to 0.4 inches) across but the scientists said larger pieces may have crashed into the lake, where a crater in the ice about eight meters (26 feet) wide opened up after Friday's explosion.
More on the ongoing hunt for pieces of the "once-in-a-century" meteorite at Reuters.