Possible Huge Meteorite Fragment Recovered From Russian Fireball

by Elizabeth Howell on October 16, 2013

Frame grab from a video of the Feb. 15, 2013 Russian fireball by Aleksandr Ivanov

Frame grab from a video of the Feb. 15, 2013 Russian fireball by Aleksandr Ivanov

A half-ton meteorite — presumably from the Russian fireball that broke up over Chelyabinsk in February — was dragged up from Lake Chebarkul in the Urals, Russian media reports said. Scientists estimate the chunk is about 1,260 pounds (570 kilograms), but couldn’t get a precise measurement in the field because the bulky bolide broke the scale, according to media reports.

“The preliminary examination… shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite,” said Sergey Zamozdra, associate professor of Chelyabinsk State University, in reports from Interfax and RT.

A polished slice of one of Russian meteorite samples. You can see round grains called chondrules and shock veins lined with melted rock. The meteorite is probably non-uniform. The preliminary analysis showed that the meteorite belongs to chemical type L or LL, petrologic type 5.

A polished slice of one of Russian meteorite samples (different samples than what was reportedly recovered on Oct. 16). You can see round grains called chondrules and shock veins lined with melted rock. The meteorite is probably non-uniform. The preliminary analysis showed that the meteorite belongs to chemical type L or LL, petrologic type 5.

“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.”

The big rock was first spotted in September, but it’s taken several attempts to bring it to the surface. If scientists can confirm this came from the fireball, this would be the biggest piece recovered yet. The chunk is reportedly in a natural history museum, where a portion will be X-rayed to determine its origins.

More than 1,000 people were injured and millions of dollars in damage occurred when the meteor broke up in the atmosphere Feb. 15, shattering glass and causing booms.

Since then, there have been numerous papers concerning the meteor’s origins (from the Apollo class of asteroids — you can read this article if you’re unclear on the difference between an asteroid and a meteorite) and tracking the spread of dust through the atmosphere, among other items.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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