Nightly News   |  February 18, 2013

Meteor fragments could fetch thousands apiece

The so-called ‘meteorite rush’ has begun around the city of Chelyabinsk where people have been searching in the snow and ice for chunks of the meteor that hit the Earth’s atmosphere last week. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> we awoke last friday to the meteor streaking across the russian sky and then we saw the video. thousands of them. and now there are a lot of new questions about whether we're doing enough to be on the lookout for another direct hit with the planet earth . while on the ground, pieces of that space rock are going for a hefty price. the story tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: after the meteor smashed through the atmosphere, shattering windows in russia, and nerves around the world, it broke into pieces, meteorites. most landed near this frozen lake. the largest piece may still be under water. the search to find them is on. there are reports that residents are trying to sell the meteorites for as much as $10,000. a lot of money for a rock. but things from outer space can fetch a good price. from collectors like dave keys willing.

>> i would love to house a piece of this in my collection and every collector on the planet would. no question about it.

>> the famous peek skill meteor was auctioned off for more than $60 to you, caught on camera before it took out the taillight of a chevy malibu . fascination in meteorites and fear has piqued since friday. two triggered a flood of anxious calls to authorities. even though those types of sightings are common. the new vigilance after the meteor in russia is a good thing, says former astro inaudible, ed lou.

>> you can think of this as a giant game of roulette with the whole earth.

>> reporter: lou has started an organization looking to build the first-ever, privately funded, deep case telescope to track meteors. he believes people don't truly appreciate the danger. there's only ever been one recorded fatality from a meteorite. 1972 in a farm in venezuela, a meteor streaks through the sky and kills a cow. scientists say the poor thing never stood a chance. today at new york's natural history museum , there wasn't a lot of concern. just curiosity.

>> whenever i hear about meteorite falling, i get all excited and stuff.

>> reporter: the rocks can tell us a lot says the museum's expert.

>> they tell us about the formation of planets. and most importantly and subtly, they tell us about the dynamic history of the solar system .

>> reporter: a dynamic history that continues to unfold. sometimes dangerously close. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york.