At Lake Chebarkul in central Russia, divers have brought to the surface a fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteor that is the world’s largest meteorite to be recovered. On February 15 this year, a 55 foot, 10,000 ton meteor entered the airspace over central Russia. As the meteor descended it shook buildings; broke numerous windows and was responsible for injuring over 1,000 people before breaking and burning up in the atmosphere. The BBC have posted a video of the huge rock being dragged out of the lake which you can see below.
The meteor then traveled on a trajectory to Lake Chebarkul where the remains of the giant space rock broke through the ice covered lake. The meteorite left a hole of around 20 feet wide in the ice.
In February this year, the world was stunned by the sight of the meteor’s fiery journey over Russia. The internet and YouTube was filled with pictures and videos of the meteor’s trajectory over cities and towns in the country.
The five foot in length irregular rock was wrapped with special sheeting while it was still submerged in the lake. The large fragment was then drug up onto the lake’s shore via a metal sheet and cables. While the fragment was being weighed, it broke into smaller fragments and the scale acutally broke. But before breaking the meteorite topped the scale at 1,255 pounds, or just over half-a-ton.
The curator of meteorites from London’s Natural History Museum, Dr Caroline Smith, confirmed that the huge fragment was indeed a meteorite based common features that the rock displayed. The scientist spoke to BBC News and explained how meteorites all have characteristics that separate the rock fragments from their earthly cousins.
According to Dr Smith, as the meteor descends our atmosphere, as the rock is burning from the friction it encounters, a thin layer of the surface melts. This melted surface is called fusion crust. Another characteristic is that meteorite’s are smooth and the face of the rock is featureless with imprints that are said to resemble thumbprints.
The “thumbprints, which are shallow impressions on the surface, are formed during the rock’s fiery descent into our atmosphere. Smith explained that these occur because of “hot gases” which burn away portions of the meteorites surface. Recovered meteorite fragments have a greater density than Earth rocks, but they can be made up of an iron/nickel base metal which can cause the fragments to become magnetized. The curator also revealed that meteorites are rarely round, they tend to be various irregular shapes and sizes.
The meteorite fragment has been confirmed by an associate professor at the Chelyabinsk State University as being from the meteor that entered the Russian lake February this year. The professor said an initial examination of the fragment, showed that is was a piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. It was also said to be among one of the largest meteorite fragments ever to be recovered.
Divers had to descend to a depth of 42 feet to find the large fragment, which was originally thought to only be 19 or 20 feet deep. According to rolling news channel Vesti 24, divers have already recovered over 12 fragments of the meteorite since it crashed through the lakes icy surface on February 15 this year.
The fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite is the world’s largest to ever be recovered. You can see the divers drag the rock onto the lake’s shore in the video below.
By Michael Smith