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Hank talks about the search for pieces of a special meteoroid that exploded over California & Nevada last month.

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Planetary Resources episode:
Hank Green (H): Morning! Any chance I can interest you in a story that involves a rare meteorite, explosions, treasure hunters, the search for extra-terrestrials and everyone's favorite airship the Zeppelin? I thought so. 

Recently I told you about planetary resources, a new commercial venture that aims to mine asteroids for raw materials like platinum and water.

The asteroids that they plan to target are a really rare and old type known as carbonaceous chondrites which date back to the birth of the solar system - 4.5 billion years ago.

Well! On April 22nd a meteorite, believed to be a piece of one of those very same asteroids, slammed into the earth's atmosphere and exploded in a huge fireball over California and Nevada causing a sonic boom that could be heard from Sacramento to Las Vegas.

Scientists and collectors are eager to get their hands on pieces of this meteorite, which experts estimate was roughly the size of a mini-van before it broke up. 

But while treasure hunters have to search for fragments on foot, NASA and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence institute have teamed up to scan the ground from above.

To do this they've chartered the only operating Zeppelin in North America. 

The helium filled "Eureka" is which is slightly longer than a Boeing 747, started cruising scientists over the foothills of Sierra Nevada mountains last week, at an altitude of about 300 meters.

They're looking for evidence of impact, but even in a Zeppelin it could take a while because the fall area is about 400 square kilometers.

Zeppelin's, by the way, not the same thing as blimps, even though both are considered airships. Unlike blimps, Zeppelin's have a light, rigid, internal frame. So don't go around calling the "Eureka" a blimp.

So I'm sure if by now you're wondering why SETI is involved in the search for meteorites, well, carbonaceous chondrites usually contain not only water, but also organic molecules. Sometimes including fun stuff like sugars and amino acids. Which are of course key ingredients for life, so a piece of this ancient rock could yield important clues to the origin of life, terrestrial and otherwise.

The largest fragment discovered so far weighs about 19 grams, about the same as a AA battery.

Do you live near the impact zone? Are you prowling around for fragments in the Sierras? Let us know in the comments, and hey if you find a piece you could always send it to me, I promise to display it prominently on the wall.

Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow news, if you have questions or suggestions please leave them below in the comments - or on Facebook or Twitter. We'll see you later.