Sunday, October 20, 2013

Biggest chunk of Chelyabinsk meteorite found under Lake Chebarkul, Russia

Via The Watchers, 17 October 2013

Scientists and divers working at Lake Chebarkul in the Urals have recovered the biggest fragment of space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013. Since the object left a 6 m wide hole in the ice its location was known, but it took 8 months to organize and pull it out. The meteorite fragment was buried under a thick layer of mud, 20 meters under water. Its weight is around 570 kg and it is 150 cm wide.

“The preliminary examination... shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. It’s got thick burn-off, the rust is clearly seen and it’s got a big number of indents. This chunk is most probably one of the top ten biggest meteorite fragments ever found,” said Sergey Zamozdra, associate professor of Chelyabinsk State University, as cited by Interfax news agency and RT. 

Divers pulled out the chunk on October 15, 2013. Video credit: RT

February 15, 2013 was no ordinary day. Close flyby of Asteroid DA14 was scheduled for late afternoon (UTC) but morning brought shock all over the globe when 17 meter wide and 20 000 ton space rock entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded over Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The meteor flew out of the blue, literally from the direction of the Sun where no telescope could see it, and took everyone by surprise. The explosion caused significant damage in the city, breaking thousands of windows and injuring more about 1 600 people.

But, as reports of injuries from Russia started coming in, we were still about 12 hours ahead of DA14's closest approach to Earth and at first it seemed like this was it.

NASA later explained how fireball over Russia had nothing to do with that asteroid "The trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising Sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14's trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north."

For another twist... later that day fireball reports started coming in from around the globe. This lasted for several days. People from Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Australia, Cuba, South Africa, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, northern Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, UK... all sent their reports on more fireballs.

RT report on exploding fireball from February 15, 2013. Video credit: RT

The lifted chunk from yesterday was taken to the regional natural history museum. The plan is to have a small sample of it X-rayed to determine what minerals it consists of.

Overall 12 alleged pieces of meteorite have so far been raised from the lakebed. Five of them were confirmed as meteorite fragments. ​

Featured image: AGI

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