© John Wagner
Meteorite HunterMichael Farmer
If you’re an optimist, don’t ask Tucson-based Michael Farmer the odds of deflecting a Titanic-sized Earth-bound asteroid. Turns out, Hollywood lied. “Movies ... they’re exciting, but, sadly, unrealistic,” he says. “[Most] meteors travel between 30,000 mph and 50,000 mph. It would be like trying to fire a bullet to Paris, then having it go through a window and hit a fish in the eyeball.” The thing is, smaller meteors are constantly bombarding the planet, and perhaps the most memorable (besides the one that wiped out the dinosaurs) exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, last March. Farmer, a professional meteorite hunter, flew there three times to study and collect the remaining fragments. Before it entered Earth’s atmosphere, Farmer says, the asteroid was the size of a six-story building and weighed 10,000 to 11,000 tons. Farmer started collecting and hunting meteorites in 1995, and since then, he’s traveled the globe, hunting specimens to donate to universities and museums, or to sell. “I call it ‘feast or famine,’” he says. “Either I’m doing really well and making good money, or I’m struggling. It’s like treasure-hunting — there are a lot more failures than successes.” — Kathy Ritchie
For more information about Michael Farmer and his work, visit www.meteoritehunter.com.