Russian scientists have discovered meteor fragments

Russian scientists today announced that they have discovered over 50 fragments of the 10 tonne meteor that streaked over Ural mountains, injuring 1,200 people and damaging thousands of homes.

A fireball plunged over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia on February 15 with the force of 30 of the nuclear bombs dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II.

“We confirm that the particles of a substance found by our expedition near Lake Chebarkul really do have the composition of a meteorite,” RIA Novsosti quoted Russian Academy of Sciences member Viktor Grokhovsky as saying yesterday.

It exploded a few dozen kilometres above Earth but its pieces were widely believed to have scattered over large swathes of the industrial region. The Russian Academy of Sciences that conducted chemical tests on some unusual rocks yesterday said the pieces had come from outer space.

“This meteorite belongs to the class of regular chondrites,” the Academy said in a statement. Grokhovsky said the rock was composed in part of metallic iron as well as chrysolite and sulfite. Its iron content was estimated at 10 per cent.

“Most likely, (the find) will be called Meteorite Chebarkul,” the Russian university said. The meteor’s shockwave blew out the windows of nearly 5,000 buildings and left 40 people – including three children–recovering in hospital yesterday with cuts and more serious injuries.

Chelyabinsk authorities responded by cordoning off the area around the lake and not allowing any media or independent researchers hunting for meteorites near the hole that developed in its thick sheet of ice. Grokhovsky said the tiny rock’s find came in the snow not far away from the lake. He also expressed confidence that a much larger meteorite was buried in its waters.

The lake “is still cordoned off, but it is quite clear that a meteorite is buried there,” the scientist said.

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