Space rock worth thousands stirs ownership debate

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

February 3, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) -- This dispute is out of this world.

A Virginia doctor and the landlord of his office building may have to battle in court over who owns a meteorite that landed in the doctor's office last month.

Dr. Marc Gallini says the tennis ball-sized space rock came crashing through the ceiling of an examination room, near the spot where he had been sitting a short while earlier.

Gallini and his colleague handed over the meteorite to the Smithsonian for safe keeping.

Then the building's landlord sent him an e-mail, notifying him that legally the rock becomes part of where it lands after it falls from the sky, and therefore is the landowner's property.

The Smithsonian says it'll keep the meteorite until a legal owner is determined.

The collectors market for meteorites can be lucrative.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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