Hundreds of meteorite chunks rained down from the sky on the remote Brazilian town of Santa Filomena on August 19. A 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite broke into more than 200 fragments with the biggest chunk weighing about 40kg and estimated to be worth over £20,000.
Town locals in the bean planting region of Brazil's Pernambuco state now regard the meteorite storm as a miraculous event calling it "the day when money fell from the sky." The meteorites are said to be of the rare chondrite type which can be traced back to the time before the Earth was born. Of all the meteorites that break through the Earth's atmosphere, only 1% are classified as chondrites.
Due to the rarity of the meteorite, these unearthly fragments can fetch up to tens of thousands of pounds. Those who were able to find even just one piece can easily make a good profit from it.
A 20-year-old local student, Edimar da Costa Rodrigues recalls how he saw the sky "fill up with smoke" and started to get text messages about rocks raining down from the sky. Rodrigues headed out to the street and came upon a meteorite located near the church by the town's square measuring 7cm-wide and weighing 164gms. He sold the space fragment to an American meteorite hunter for £1,000.
Rodrigues said: "The price is getting close to £5.50 per gram, and it's getting higher. Only a few days ago it was half that."
Just within hours of the meteor shower, meteorite hunters began to pour into the remote town coming from other parts of the country. Most were professional collectors from Uruguay and the United States, the Daily Mail reports.
Scientists from Brazil's National Museum in Rio de Janeiro have also arrived at the town of Santa Filomena as they try to get a hold of one of the pieces that weighs 2.8kg. It is currently being negotiated at a hefty sum of £15,000. However, the four-man scientist team fear they may not be able to compete with the price offer of an American meteorite hunter.
With the town feeling blessed by the heavenly space rocks, many locals strongly oppose selling the meteorites to foreigners who will eventually ship and export the rocks out of Brazil's territory.
Antonio Miranda, an official from Pernambuco state federal university considers these rare rocks to be a "diamond of science" and rightfully belongs to the person who owns the land on which these precious rocks were found.
He adds that because many Brazilians cannot afford to buy the meteorites on their own, foreign moneyed investors and collectors buy them to be sold abroad for a much higher price. He urges that these should be placed in a museum in the town to be displayed as a tourist attraction and at the same time enable further scientific studies on them.