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Events similar to Chelyabinsk meteor occur in Russia every 20-50 years — scientist

Head of the Laboratory of Meteoritics and Cosmochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry. V. I. Vernadsky RAS Dmitry Badyukov also reported that the Chelyabinsk fireball flew in space for about 1.2 million years before falling to Earth

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Celestial bodies, similar in size to the Chelyabinsk meteorite that struck Russia’s Urals ten years ago, land on the country’s territory approximately once in 20-50 years, a Russian scientist told TASS on the 10th anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event.

Ten years ago, a large meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere above Russia’s southern Urals at about 07:10 Moscow time, causing a powerful explosion at the altitude of about 23 kilometers. The blast was observed by hundreds of thousands of people in Russia’s Urals and north Kazakhstan.

"There have been only two recorded meteor events comparable in scope with the Chelyabinsk event, namely the explosions of the Sikhote-Alin and the Sterlitamak meteors. On average, such events occur once in around 20-50 years in Russia," said Dmitry Badyukov, the head of the Meteoritics and Space Chemistry Laboratory of the Russian Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Badyukov, who headed the institute’s expedition to the Chelyabinsk meteorite’s landing site, said that about one hundred of its fragments have been recovered to date, weighing 2-3 kilograms in total.

"Therefore, all of them are relatively small. The largest measures about 10-15 cm in diameter," the scientist said.

Over the past ten years, scientists managed to learn a lot about its history.

"Now we know when the asteroid from which it broke off was formed. We also know how long it was floating in space," Badyukov said, adding that the age of the original asteroid was around 4.5 billion years, and a chunk of it was travelling in space for about 1.2 million years before exploding in the Earth’s atmosphere.

After the explosion, numerous meteorite fragments fell on the territory of Russia’s Chelyabinsk Region in the Urals. The shockwave from the blast damaged around 1,300 buildings in Chelyabinsk, including houses, production sites, schools and other social facilities. The roof of the Chelyabinsk zinc plant partially collapsed on the area of about 600 square meters due to the impact from the meteor’s air burst. A total of 1,613 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical assistance, including 324 children. No deaths were reported, however. The biggest chunks of the meteorite were later recovered near Lake Chebarkul, some 78 km west of Chelyabinsk.