Russian scientists appear to have pulled up a half-ton charred meteorite from the bottom of a murky Siberian lake—a piece of the giant space rock that exploded in the skies above the southern Urals in February.
Entering the atmosphere at speeds up to 31,000 miles per hour (50,000 kilometers per hour), the Russian meteor, officially named 2011 EO40, exploded about 25 miles (40 kilometers) above the city of Chelyabinsk. The power of the explosion was estimated to be at least 20 times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The resulting air blast damaged buildings and injured some 1,600 people.
(See also “Best Videos from Meteor Strike in Russia.”)
According to news reports, the suspected piece of meteor recovered this week weighs at least 1,257 pounds (570 kilograms). However, it is only a fragment of the original impactor that is estimated to have been about 17 meters (54 feet) across, with a mass of about 10,000 metric tons before it shattered. (See “Pictures: Meteorite Hits Russia.”)
— RT (@RT_com) October 16, 2013
After the February event, locals directed scientists to Lake Chebarkul—45 miles west of the city of Chelyabinsk—to a 25-foot (8-meter) hole punctured in the ice by the meteor. Eight months later, a 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) boulder was pulled out of the lake with a harness and placed on a balance. Before its exact weight could be measured, however, it broke into three pieces.
“It’s a typical meteorite, judging by its appearance – [I’m] 105 percent [sure]. There’s no doubt about that. [It has] a thick melted crust, while dents reveal typical structures of the Chelyabinsk meteorite,” Viktor Grokhovsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ meteorite commission who examined some previously recovered fragments, told reporters from RIA Novosti.