Oops! Huge Russian meteorite breaks after it's pulled out of lake

18.10.2013 15:40

Onlookers surround what may be the largest
surviving piece of a meteorite that fell to the
bottom of Russia's Lake Chebarkul in
February. The rock, linked to a spectacular
meteor blast over the city of Chelyabinsk,
was dredged up on Wednesday.Divers raised a coffee-table-size chunk of
the Chelyabinsk meteorite from its muddy
home at the bottom of Russia's Lake
Chebarkul on Wednesday.
The massive boulder is the largest
fragment recovered so far from the Feb.
15 Russian meteor explosion over the city
of Chelyabinsk, which injured more than
1,600 people.
The blast scattered meteor shards across
the region and left holes in the ice-
covered Lake Chebarkul, so it was
assumed that big lumps fell into the lake.
Later surveys revealed rocks of potentially
extraterrestrial origin, buried beneath the
bottom mud.
Recovery crews have since pulled five
meteorite chunks from the lake, RT.com
The 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) rock
dragged from the depths Wednesday was
65 feet (20 meters) below the surface.
After it was pulled to the surface with
cables, the meteorite fragment fractured
into three pieces, shown live on Russian
television .
Together, the dark, craggy stones weighed
more than the scale brought to the lake
could read, tipping in at more than 1,250
pounds. (570 kilograms). Preliminary tests
confirmed that the rocks are from the
Chelyabinsk meteorite.
Pictures and video from the retrieval
effort show telltale signs of the
meteorite's fiery trip through the
atmosphere. There's a fusion crust — a
shiny, glassy layer of black material that
forms when the outer portions of the
rock melt. The rock also appears to have
regmaglypts, shallow surface indentations
that look like thumbprints.
The Chelyabinsk meteorite is a mix of
different types of ordinary chondrites, the
stony meteorites that crash into Earth
most often, researchers have found. The
mélange inside the fragments suggests
that the meteorite may have collided with
another asteroid early in its history.
Researchers say the asteroid that caused
the Chelyabinsk fireball was about 55 feet
(17 meters) wide and weighed 10,000
tons when it streaked into Earth's
It hit on Feb. 15, the same day a 130-foot
(40-meter) asteroid called 2012 DA14
gave Earth a close shave, missing our
planet by just 17,200 miles (27,000
kilometers). The two space rocks are
unrelated, experts say.