Changing Planet

Giant Chunk of Russian Meteor Recovered

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.

A crowd gathers near what is believed to be a chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteor, recovered from Chebarkul Lake. Photograph by Alexander Firsov, AP

(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.”)



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.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Tam Green

    Is it worth any money? Please advise.

  • Soccerpronelly


  • swagAlag

    how do we konw that that is a reel peace of metor and not a fony insteed

  • Babu G. Ranganathan

    ASTEROIDS, COMETS, AND METEORS ORIGINATED FROM EARTH: In the Earth’s past there were powerful volcanic explosions propelling millions of tons of earth soil and rock (now asteroids and meteors which may contain organic molecules or organisms) into space. Read my popular Internet article, ANY LIFE ON MARS CAME FROM EARTH. The article explains how millions of tons of Earth soil may exist on Mars, and how debris we call asteroids and meteors could have originated from Earth. According to a Newsweek article of September 21, 1998, p. 12 that quotes a NASA scientist, SEVEN MILLION tons of Earth soil may exist on Mars! How could this be possible? Read and find out.

    Even if the right chemicals exist, life cannot arise by chance. The molecules that make-up life have to be in a sequence, just like the letters found in a sentence.

    Scientist and creationist, Brian Thomas explains:

    “Astronomers measure comets’ masses and erosion rates to calculate potential lifespans. Sungrazing comets last fewer than 100,000 years.2 They thus confront secular astronomy which maintains that comets formed with the rest of the solar system billions of years ago. A solar system that old should have no remaining comets.

    How do secularists solve this dilemma?

    Reporting on Ison, The Independent said, “Comet Ison has taken millions of years to reach us travelling from the so-called Oort cloud – a reservoir of trillions and trillions of chunks of rock and ice, leftovers from the birth of the planets.”3

    Unfortunately, nobody has yet witnessed a single one of those “trillions and trillions of chunks.” Going strictly with observational science, the “so-called Oort cloud” may exist only in the reservoir of the human mind.

    Clearly, secular astronomers invented the Oort cloud to rescue their billions-of-years dogma from a disintegration process that limits a comet’s age—and thus the age of the Solar System—to thousands of years. When Ison becomes visible later this year, perhaps it will remind thoughtful viewers that the universe is quite young, just as Scripture teaches” (Brian Thomas, M.S., Science Writer at the Institute for Creation research).

    Check out my most recent Internet articles and sites: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION and WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS (2nd Edition)

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    B.A. Bible/Biology


    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East” for my writings on religion and science.

  • Bruce Parsons

    Wow I didn’t know there were any creationists on the Nat Geo pages. By the way anyone who is willing to pay for it can have their name in a Who’s Who so that isn’t much of a recommendation. As with all creationists there is just so much to refute and so little time and room. Cherry picking apparently contradictory facts to show internal inconsistency of physics ( not secularism) is a very time consuming exercise and like dancing with a pig, only gets you dirty, and the pig enjoys it. “Secular astronomy”? What other kind is there. This gentleman seems to have a undergrad degree in biology and the bible and would benefit from some physics education. There is no war among “Evolutionists”, more likely our correspondent doesn’t understand any of the science. Where does he think the HIV virus and the hundreds of varieties of dogs came from? These are well known and understood facts. And in the usual reduction to absurdity, I always ask, so where di god come from , and what was he doing for the first 13 billion years of the universes existence?

  • ted

    If its real Tam Green.Tons. Quite a find. And to Bruce Parsons above. I would ask you how do you know its 13 billion years old?.I would guess you read or heard it from scientific books. What was god doing? I would say he was making up his mind as to whether or not he would let man have total control of their minds. Or keep total control over them, Besides Einstein’s theory on time might have a big play in what our brainiacs think is time. If you believe scientist more than God thats your God given right. Some day you and I will learn the true facts. Oh and just for the record I believe in God. Even if he was a alien being. What a Man he must be creating heaven and earth. Spaceship Earth carrying his children to parts unknown. So far. Peace.

  • Joseph Falco

    If this is the level of discourse on Nat Geo, we are doomed. Our Empire of Idiocracy has arrived.

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