From the September 2003 issue

Profile of a meteorite hunter

Robert Haag is one of the most well-known meteorite dealers in the world.
By | Published: September 30, 2003 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Murchison Meteorite Sample
The Murchison meteorite fell upon Australia on the morning of September 28, 1969. Scientists have found that it contains more than 92 amino acids (including 73 that are alien to Earth), sugar, and sugar-like substances. It may have a cometary origin, as it contains about 12% water. This 23-gram (0.8-ounce) piece is a small sample of the well-studied meteorite.
Lab Photo courtesy R. Kempton / New England Meteoritical Services
Robert Haag has been a meteorite dealer — some would say the best known in the world — for more than two decades. Robert makes his home in Tucson, Arizona, a place with expansive horizons and consistently clear skies. When asked how he started dealing in meteorites, Robert explains that it began with a fascination for all things airborne. Haag’ s father was an aviation technician, and he also had an uncle who loved to build airplanes. Robert has been a licensed pilot since he was 21.

While on a family vacation in Mexico years ago, Robert watched a fireball streak directly overhead and apparently land in the hills just beyond the beach. He never found that meteorite, but it was the beginning of his fascination with rocks from outer space.

Robert’ s grandparents owned a rock-and-mineral shop in the Tucson area, and eventually, Robert’ s parents joined the business. The entire Haag family found themselves involved in the fledgling Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Started in 1954 with just a few dealers, the show has become the largest in the nation. When Robert was in his early 20s, he discovered that it was possible to buy and sell meteorites, and the direction for his life was set. Once bitten by the meteorite bug, Haag was truly infected.

Throughout the 1980s, Robert traveled across the globe to search for meteorites for his own collection and for his meteorite business. He has been fortunate in acquiring major specimens such as the Zagami Mars meteorite, a large number of Allende stony meteorites from Mexico, thousands of pounds of the Gibeon iron meteorite, and even a moon rock found in Australia.

Robert is proud of having helped revive the interest in meteorites both for study and collecting. When Haag started his business there were few outlets for private collectors to obtain any kind of specimen. Haag has helped to change that. Robert has been featured on television shows in America, Japan, and elsewhere around the world. He was even featured in a National Geographic magazine article about meteorites.

Today Robert Haag is an important, driving force in the collection and distribution of meteorites both to institutions and individuals. He has assembled one of the finest private collections in the world. More than anything, however, Robert is still incredibly motivated in his desire to educate and excite people about meteorites. Just five minutes with Robert Haag is enough to turn anyone into an enthusiast for these emissaries from outer space.