Chelyabinsk meteorite: four years later

The fall of the celestial body, which has become unique thanks to witnesses.

Chelyabinsk meteorite. 
AFP Photo

February 15, 2013 at 7:22 Moscow time (9:22 local) in the Chelyabinsk region a meteorite crashed. The heavenly body was also seen by the inhabitants of Bashkiria, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Kurgan regions and even Kazakhstan.

The fall of the cosmic body was captured by hundreds of witnesses on camera phones and video recorders. Pictures of eyewitnesses circled almost all the world news channels.

Initially, NASA experts said that the Chelyabinsk meteorite is the largest since the days of the Tunguska . The incident turned out to be a serious damage for Chelyabinsk and its suburbs: 7 thousand buildings were damaged, in which 120 thousand families lived. Over a thousand locals were injured . Damage exceeded 1.2 billion rubles.

A large number of visual evidence of the phenomenon made the Chelyabinsk meteorite unique long before the findings of scientists.

What happened then

Photo by NASA / M. Akhmetvaleev

On the morning of February 15, a meteorite measuring 17-19 meters and weighing 10-13 thousand tons entered the atmosphere at a speed of 18-19 kilometers per second.

Above the Earth, he appeared in the region of the border of Russia and Kazakhstan. The meteorite was not seen on the systems for observing asteroids due to the acute angle with respect to the Sun and small diameter.

Together with the fall , a flash of light and electromagnetic radiation was observed . The meteorite collapsed in about 30 seconds after entering the atmosphere at an altitude of 30-50 kilometers. It looked like a series of explosions and shock waves. Seismic stations recorded earthquakes.

Broken windows in the university building

The first eyewitnesses, who saw an unknown object in the sky, spoke of various reasons: from a falling plane (both civilian and military) to missiles and enemy bombardments.

Soon the conspiracy versions disappeared, and the fragments of the meteorite were found in different places in the Chelyabinsk region.

The local authorities, along with the residents, were discouraged by an unusual phenomenon and sometimes did not realize what was said.

The largest part of the celestial body weighing 654 kilograms was taken out of Lake Chebarkul in the fall of 2013. In parallel, scientists and local residents collected up to 100 kilograms of small fragments.

The car entered the International catalog of meteorites under the official name “Chelyabinsk”.

The largest piece of meteorite, raised from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. 
Photos Science / AAAS

What exactly fell on Earth

Experts attributed the cosmic body to one of the most common types of stone meteorites: events of this magnitude are expected once every 100 years or even more often. The celestial body broke off from a larger one about 290 million years ago and flew from the main belt of the asteroids of the solar system, which lies between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.

According to the Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the meteorite turned out to be 4.45 billion years old, which is approximately equal to the “age” of the Solar System. About this age of some breeds of the “maternal” body also spoke at the Institute for the Study of the Moon and the US planets.

The scientists explained that the family of this celestial body could be a 10-kilometer asteroid that fell to Earth 65 million years ago and destroyed dinosaurs.

What became a meteorite

The meteorite attracted the attention of scientists around the world who studied the mineral composition of a celestial body, the flight trajectory and other parameters. Scientific groups have created a 3D-model of the car and its immersion to the bottom of the lake.

Russian scientists have found that after the incident around the planet for three months formed a “stratospheric dust belt”, which, however, did not affect the weather. In the dust, which came into the possession of specialists, they found “threads” similar to those that are formed during emissions of volcanic lava.

The Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences began to develop a system for the early detection of any dangerous celestial bodies that may collide with the Earth. Russian scientists wanted in three days to learn about such phenomena as in Chelyabinsk in order to have time to evacuate the locals and secure the infrastructure. At the same time, in the Federal Space Program until 2025, funds for such a system are not incorporated.

Meteorite in the museum of Chelyabinsk. 
Photo TASS

The Chelyabinsk meteorite twice “starred” in the films: fragments from DVRs can be seen in the films “The Edge of the Future” and “War of Z Worlds”. The car also became a plot feature of the Russian version of the TV series “Dross”.

Locals exhibited elements of the Chelyabinsk meteorite for sale on the Internet, invented jewelery and perfume with fragments, and also produced materials under the guise of a celestial body, in some way similar in composition to a fireball. Meteor brand asked to register in Rospatent.

Souvenir with “meteor”. 

T-shirts, posters, stationery and other products with images of a meteorite appeared in the Chelyabinsk region .

Photo “Komsomolskaya Pravda”

On February 15, 2014, the winners of the Olympic Games in Sochi were presented with medals inlaid with shrapnel from a meteorite.

After Chelyabinsk became the heroes of news stories, tour operators recorded asurge in foreigners’ interest in excursions. Thematic exhibitions were placed in the museums, and a memorial sign was installed on Lake Chebarkul. For several years now, they have wanted to build a tourist center or a hotel near it, but this is still only in the plans.

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