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Bischoff says scientists and treasure hunters are probably already racing to find pieces of the meteorite. Some meteorites can be very valuable, selling for up to €500 ($670) per gram depending on their exact composition. Because meteors have remained largely unchanged for billions of years — unlike rocks on Earth that have been affected by erosion and volcanic outbreaks — scientists will study the fragments to learn more about the origins of matter. Harris, of the German Aerospace Center, says some meteorites are also believed to carry organic material and may have influenced the development of life on Earth.
Scientists hope never to find out, but they're still trying to prepare for such an event. Von Weyhe, the European Space Agency spokesman, says experts from Europe, the United States and Russia are already discussing how to spot potential threats sooner and avert them. But don't expect a Hollywood style mission to fly a nuclear bomb into space and blow up the asteroid.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.