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Chelyabinsk Meteorite

Chelyabinsk Meteorite

The Chelyabinsk meteorite is part of the First Edition collection. We are happy to offer it once again as a stand-alone specimen!

Above: The front of the specimen card.

Normally, the Sun is the brightest object you see in the sky, but on the morning of February 15th, 2013, this wasn’t the case. Just minutes after sunrise, over 18 miles up, an object entering the Earth’s atmosphere exploded over the town of Chelyabinsk in Russia. This object, known as the Chelyabinsk meteor, has since become one of the most witnessed entries of an extraterrestrial object.

Above: A still image from one of the many dashcam videos of the event.

This specimen is a complete Chelyabinsk meteorite fragment. The specimen is housed in an acrylic jar that is encased within a glass-topped riker display box. The box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.

Please Note: The specimens vary in size and shape. All specimens will show some measure of black fusion crust and some will also have exposed interior rock. The product images are representative samples of the range you can expect from this specimen.

About the Chelyabinsk Meteorite

 

"Immediately one can start asking questions about whether these are as rare as we thought."

~ Dr. Paul Chodas, Manager of the NASA NEO Program Office at JPL

 

Above: This image of a vapor trail was captured about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the Chelyabinsk meteor event, about one minute after the house-sized asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere. (Source: Alex Alishevskikh)

The Chelyabinsk meteor is referred to as a bolide, a term for objects which appear like fireballs during entry. The light seen over Chelyabinsk peaked with a magnitude of -27.3, 30 times brighter than the Sun itself. Anyone awake in the early morning would have immediately seen the shift in light, with shadows cast from extreme angles that moved with the arc of the meteor.

This meteor had a massive 66-foot diameter and is estimated to have weighed over 13,000 tons. At its fastest, it was moving at over 40,000 miles per hour, almost 60 times the speed of sound.



Shortly after the meteor hit its brightest point, it shattered in a powerful explosion that sent a shockwave of force from the sky. Pieces of the object were flung west of Chelyabinsk, with many meteorites leaving holes in the morning’s snowbanks. Several fragments would eventually be found in Lake Chebarkul, with one weighing up to 1,442 pounds. While it was fortunate that there were no major damages from the impact, the airburst was powerful enough to affect things on the ground.

 


Above: Damage from the explosion.


The shock waves from the explosion damaged over 7000 regional buildings and sent over 1000 people to the hospital, mostly suffering from lacerations from flying glass. The event was so powerful it created a dust belt in the stratosphere that circled the entire planet and lingered for months. Witnesses claimed they had to turn away from the intense heat and light and some even suffered from sunburns. Videos quickly appeared on the Internet where millions around the world viewed the event soon after it occurred.


Above: Vapour cloud trail left by the Chelyabinsk asteroid as seen by M. Ahmetvaleev on 15 February 2013. (Source: ESA)

While the event has had no reported deaths, it has raised some fears over unpreparedness for subsequent meteorites. The space around the planet is filled with objects whose orbits cross with Earth, so many in fact, that it is impossible to track them all. Many of these burn up into nothing in the atmosphere, but obviously not all of them. The Chelyabinsk meteor went undetected until its entry and was the largest meteor to enter the atmosphere since Tunguska in 1908. Before this incident, it was thought that such large strikes were a once-in-centuries event. Now, some think it may be a once-in-decades event.

Further Reading

Grant, Andrew. “Large Meteor Strikes Underestimated.” Science News, vol. 184, no. 11, 2013, pp. 6–6.

Chapman, Clark R. “Calibrating Asteroid Impact.” Science, vol. 342, no. 6162, 2013, pp. 1051–1052.

Popova, Olga P., et al. “Chelyabinsk Airburst, Damage Assessment Meteorite Recovery, and Characterization.” Science, vol. 342, no. 6162, 2013, pp. 1069–1073.

Ozawa, S., Miyahara, M., Ohtani, E. et al. “Jadeite in Chelyabinsk meteorite and the nature of an impact event on its parent body.” Sci Rep vol 4, 5033 (2014).

Yau, Kevin, et al. “Meteorite Falls in China and Some Related Human Casualty Events.” Meteoritics, vol. 29, no. 6, 1994, pp. 864–871.

 

Above: The back of the specimen card.

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