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Scientists hope to find still bigger Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments

October 17, 2013, 4:02 UTC+3
The search for big Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments will be continued
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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Stanislav Krasil'nikov

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Stanislav Krasil'nikov

YEKATERINBURG, October 17 (Itar-Tass) - The search for big Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments will be continued. Scientists hope to find still bigger pieces than the 570-kilogram one that was lifted from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul in Russia's Chelyabinsk Region close to the Ural Mountains on Wednesday, Viktor Grokhovsky, a member of the meteorite committee of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Itar-Tass.

“An important result for science is that we have finally retrieved a key specimen of the bolide, although it is not ruled out that still bigger fragments might be scattered in the Chelyabinsk Region,” he said. “However such fragments can be found only by chance, since we do not know their exact coordinates, although there are some calculations and assumptions.”

He said he was sure the study of the fragment of celestial body that was found on Wednesday would help learn more about the “composition of the meteorite body when it entered the atmosphere.”

“As for the importance of this find, I can say that at last eight months of waiting are over,” Grokhovsky noted. “There were so much talk about this lake, this fragment, there were so many legends and here it comes in flesh. As far as I understand, it has a very interesting surface and we want to know how it burnt. There are many questions to be answered but it is obvious that there is no need to cut this fragment to examine its composition and structure.”

He also said that this meteorite fragment could be used as a tourist attraction, but it was up to the regional authorities to think about it.

A 570-kilogram fragment of a meteorite was lifted from the bed of Lake Chebarkul earlier on Wednesday. The director of the Chelyabinsk State University Center for Project Innovations and Expert Studies, Andrey Kocherov, confirmed that the recovered object was a meteorite with all distinctive surface features, like fusion crust, rust, and mixture of white and dark substances.

A 10,000-tonne meteorite with a diameter of about 17 meters entered the Earth atmosphere on February 15, 2013 and broke into numerous fragments, the bulk of which fell down in Russia’s Urals Chelyabinsk region. A shock wave that followed the fall of the meteorite broke windows in more than 4,700 houses in Chelyabinsk. Astronomers say the Chelyabinsk meteorite was the biggest celestial object to hit the Earth since the Tunguska event in 1908, when a huge meteorite exploded over Russia’s Siberia. This time, the meteorite shower was observed in five Russian regions - the Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions, and in the republic of Bashkortostan.

Eyewitnesses said they had first seen a bright flash in the sky and had heard the sound of explosion. More than 1,500 people, including more than 300 children, sought medical help after the incident, and as many as 69 people, including 13 children, were hospitalized.

Several fragments of the meteorite have already been found. These fragments are now being studied by scientists.

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