Meteor Fragments From Ural, Russia, Retrieved; What Did Scientists Find?

By iDigital Times Staff Reporter on February 18, 2013 1:49 PM EST

Metoer fragment
A fragment of the Ural meteor was found on a frozen lake bed. (Photo: YouTube / POKJournal)

A meteor exploded over Ural, Russia, last week, causing extensive damages as the shockwave caused glass to shatter over 77,220 square miles, injuring more than 1,000 people. In total, local officials say the damages will cost approximately 1 billion rubles, or $33 million, making it one of Ural's most expensive disasters.

Releasing nearly 500 kilotons of energy, the Ural meteor exploded in midair, releasing about 33 times the force of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during WWII. To better understand the nature of the meteor, Russian scientists managed to track down fragments of the meteor on the frozen surface of Lake Chebarkul. The meteor's properties were later examined up close.

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According to Russian Scientist Viktor Grokhovsky, his team of Urals Federal University researchers have discovered 53 small meteorites on the surface of the lake while a larger chunk is believed to have fallen through the ice and into the water. Divers have also searched in the lake to find more specimens.

Remarkably, many of the specimens found were no larger than one-inch in radius. What sort of meteor can produce such immense power while only offering tiny fragments as any proof of its existence? Is the meteor made of of a dense carbon unobtainium compound? Is it a small alien material capable of massive destructive power? If fallen in the wrong hands, are the meteor fragments still deadly?

A bit anticlimactic, Russian scientists later confirmed that the fragments were simply nothing more than just a bit of rock and iron. In fact, it's only 10 percent iron and the rest is simply rock.

The search for larger fragments continue. Physics professor Peter G. Brown of the University of Western Ontario estimates the size of the meteor at as large as 50 feet and 7,000 tons before the explosion.

"When you have a fireball of this size, we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface, and in this case there were probably some large ones," said NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office's Paul Chodas at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Be sure to learn more about the meteor fragments by taking a look at the videos below.

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