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Russian scientists doing their best to decode dark spots on Chelyabinsk meteorite

February 13, 2015, 19:24 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG
Quite possibly their origin is explained by radiation, heating, mechanical impact, or other factors
1 pages in this article
© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

YEKATERINBURG, February 13. /TASS/. Scientists who have spent the past two years studying the meteorite that fell on February 15, 2013 in the area of Lake Chebarkul near the city of Chelyabinsk in the Urals, have been unable so far to determine the origin of dark spots and stripes on the meteorite’s whitish body.

Quite possibly their origin is explained by radiation, heating, mechanical impact, or other factors but they have no unanimity in their conclusions yet, Dr. Viktor Grokhovsky of the Urals Federal University, a member of the Committee on Meteorites that reports to the Russian Academy of Sciences and also a member of the International Meteorite Society told TASS on Thursday.

The Chebarkul meteorite has an abnormally low hardness and that is why the claims that it exploded in the atmosphere are rather incorrect, he said. "It's likely to have been the same kind of destruction as when a lump of gravel falls apart."

"Many particles of the yet unknown minerals were also found in the zone of the main fragment of the meteorite and they require a long and detailed research while Russia does not have all the necessary equipment for this."

One more enigmatic aspect is the events that occurred between the end of the meteorite’s flight in outer space and until the collapse of its fragments on the Earth.

"A report we drafted together with Japanese researchers (to be presented at an international conference in Houston in March - TASS) speaks of the Chebarkul meteorite’s interaction with a comet but I can’t reveal details before its official publication," Dr. Grokhovsky said.

The meteorite that was dubbed Chelyabinsk later on entered the Earth’s atmosphere on February 15, 2013. It fell apart at altitude of 30 to 50 kilometers and its fragments fell on the territory of the Chelyabinsk region.

The largest fragments went down near Lake Chebarkul, some 78 kilometers to the west of Chelyabinsk. A fragment of the meteorite that weighs more than 500 kilograms is kept in the Chelyabinsk Museum of Local History and Law, with researchers saying it is the largest meteoritic fragment ever found in the world.

It weighted 654 kilograms right after recovery from water of the lake. Then a lump of about 100 kg fell off from it.

In November 2104, the lump weighed 473 give or take 20 kg. On February 9, 2015, its weight was 505 kg and the most recent weighing that was done February 9 showed that thy lump had slimmed again and weighed 505.3 kg.

The scientists will take the weight of fragment in two years’ time again.

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