Scientists presented the first results of the analysis of fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite named after the Chelyabinsk Region (Central Russia) it fell in about two weeks ago.
Scientists managed to collect about 50 small fragments of the meteorite, sized few millimeters, in the Lake Chebarkul. With the help of modern supersensitive devices, it became possible to determine the type of celestial body.
There is no doubt that this is a classic stony meteorite, explained the leader of the meteorite expedition at Ural Federal University Viktor Grokhovsky:
“This is a classic stony meteorite, called “ordinary chondrite”, which consists of olivine, opaque minerals, troilite, kamacite, compounds that can be formed only in space. Similar combinations and structures do not exist on Earth.”
Did Chelyabinsk meteorite bring alien life to Earth?
Scientists refuted as unscientific some rumors that appeared on the Internet, specifically those claiming that together with the meteorite, a new form of life was transferred to Earth.
This is impossible, say scientists. The fragments have been identified and it is confirmed that it cannot be carbonaceous chondrite, which could contain elements of organic compounds.
Naturally, a detailed analysis requires larger pieces. One of them fell into the Lake Chebarkul, forming a hole of almost eight meters, but till now, the researchers did not manage to detect its location.
Why wasn’t Chelyabinsk meteorite detected?
Another question that scientists need to answer is why the meteorite weighing about 10,000 tons was not recorded by any space observation station. It was detected only when entering the dense layers of the atmosphere.
The fireball was approaching the Earth at about 30 kilometers per second, says vice-president of the Committee on meteorites of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Nazarov:
“It was not recorded in space because of its small size according to the asteroid scale. Since it was noticed upon entering the atmosphere, we can calculate that the flight within the atmosphere, when it was clearly visible, lasted about half a minute.
During this time, it is possible only to try to predict where it may fall and how much energy will be released. However, it is practically impossible to take some precautionary measures for the evacuation of the population.”
At the same time, efforts to overcome the consequences of the crash of the meteorite in the Chelyabinsk Region continue. The shockwave broke windows in several buildings.
No deaths were recorded from the incident, but more than a thousand people were injured by broken glass.
The head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia Vladimir Puchkov estimates that the Chelyabinsk meteorite incident will push scientists to create better technologies of monitoring small bolides.
He also expects scientists’ suggestions on how to minimize the impact of the meteor rains in populated areas such as cities.
Image credit: Svend Buhl / Meteorite Recon / CC BY-SA
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