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Mom Stumbles Onto Meteorite Worth About $20,000

LOTUS (CBS13) - People from all over the world are in the tiny town of Lotus in El Dorado County looking for something that's out of this world, but leave it to a stay-at-home mom walking her dog to find a precious meteorite.

The rock Brenda Salveson found is 17 grams, equal to just over a tablespoon of sugar. But when it comes in the form of an asteroid, its weight has no boundaries.

"I was lucky, blessed, good karma," Brenda said. "It was sitting there at my toes like an Easter egg."

An egg? More like a diamond in the rough. That gem from outer space was found at the Lotus park where Brenda, her kids and her collie come to nearly every day.

"I had jumpy puppy in one hand and rock in another," she said.

Meteorites landed in California's Gold Country several days ago, creating a modern day gold rush.

"I've been out here my third day now," said Robert Clark of Grass Valley. "Found one piece, one gram."

Gold is so 1840s out here. Meteorites are the new treasure.

"I was really excited for this much," said Rick Nelson of Grass Valley, who found some gold. "I was more excited for my wife's find. She found a meteor."

A couple thousand or so people from as far as Australia and Canada have descended to the area, practically doubling the population of Lotus.

Geologists, treasure hunters and scientists all took a look at Brenda's find.

"As I opened my hand, there was a huge gasp," she said.

Scientists have told her what she had in her hands could be 4 to 6 billion years old.

So what does an earthling do with something that's been cruising the galaxy longer than our sun? Take it to her kids' school for show and tell of course.

"A little freaky when I shared it in my class," her son Tommy said.

Now it's locked up for safe keeping. It could be worth nearly $20,000, but Brenda's not ready to part with it.

She never set out to find it, so she considers this some sort of gift from above.

There are plenty of rocks to sift through, so how do you know what's a meteor? Brenda had geologists and NASA scientists confirm it. And they all say the chances of that happening — astronomical.

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