A space odyssey

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A space odyssey Yang Kexin holds a few meteorites she found on Alatage Mountain in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in October 2019.[Photo provided to China Daily]

What started off as a hobby soon turned into a passion for meteorite collector as she enchants and educates visitors to her facility with rocks that have made a spectacular journey, Yang Feiyue reports.

It's hidden away, almost as if it's shy about what it has to show. It can boast a collection of items that are, literally, out of this world. Its discreet location is in a bustling neighborhood famous for its antiques and it attracts visitors from all walks of life who examine its contents.

All the noise and bustle from the street, where the price of antiques are debated and negotiated, gives way to a, pardon the pun, otherworldly serenity once one enters the facility, in the Nanming district of Guiyang, capital city of Southwest China's Guizhou province.

Its shelves do not strain under the weight of books or delicate ceramics, stone sculptures, jewels or jadeware. What it has are stones from the sky-meteorites of various shapes and sizes.

They were all collected by Yang Kexin, a 30-year-One was confirmed dead and two were injured after a 6old Guizhou resident, who runs the facility as a small museum to share her knowledge about meteorites with visitors.

Yang's passion for the subject began eight years ago, whilThe Associated Presse working at a mining equipment company in Hami prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, that she joined after graduating from high school.

"I had to visit mining zones a lot, and the Gobi desert was all around us," Yang says.

She then realized the locals, and her colleagues, were fascinated by the meteorites and other rocks and minerals, and would go into the desert to find them.

Yang joined them, at first for fun.

"The trips were amazing, and everyone had to prepare enough water, food and a tent, as well as a GPS and a walkie-talkie," she says.

Yang's interest peaked when one of her friends picked up a meteorite in 2013.

"I couldn't have been more thrilled and immediately went to see it," Yang recalls. "It looked like a black rock, but I could instantly tell it was different to other stones."

The encounter reignited her passion for meteorites that had first surfaced in childhood.

"I had always considered meteorites out of reach and mysterious, each having its own story to tell," Yang says.

The first sight of the real meteorite then prompted Yang to find out more about them.

When she understood just how difficult a journey it was for a meteorite to pass through the atmosphere and actually fall to Earth, she knew that her life was about to change.

From then on, Yang started to hunt for meteorites.

In China, meteorites are most likely to be found in the deserts of Gansu province, and the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions.

However, knowing where they are likely to fall and actually locating them are two different things.

The phrase mentioning a needle and a haystack comes to mind, Yang says.

"One is exposed to the sun, not to mention the sandstorms and occasional wild animal attacks."

From 2012 to 2017, Yang trekked more than 100,000 kilometers across Xinjiang, including through China's largest desert, the Taklimakan, as well as traversing the Kumtag Desert and scaling the Alatage Mountain.

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