Russian Meteor Had Close Encounter Before Crashing Into The Earth

The meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February may have has a close encounter with another celestial object before it met its fate.

The space rock, which was about the size of a bus before it hit our atmosphere, was largely vaporized by the trip. However, several fragments made it through the atmosphere and crashed into the ground.

The impact from the February 15 meteor shattered windows, damaged property, and injured more than 1,000 people, reports Space News.

Analysis of the meteor's remains has resulted in several interesting findings. Some of the meteorites show evidence of melting long before they ever reached the Earth's atmosphere.

That kind of melting can only happen at high heat caused either by impact with another asteroid in the solar system or even if the space rock passed close by the sun.

Geologist Victor Sharygin of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy in Novosibirsk, Russia, explained that the Russian meteorite is anLL5 chondrite. He explained, "It's fairly common for these to have undergone a melting process before they fall to Earth."

NBC News notes that the researchers explained that the evidence of melting was found in a portion of the meteorites they collected that have been classified as "dark" fragments. They are more rare than the light and intermediate fragments found from the Russian meteor.

Some of those fragments show clear signs of having melted at some point. While any meteorite that hits Earth has signs of melting from our planet's atmosphere, this one is different. Along with the expected "fusion crust" from its final moments, the melting happened earlier.

Scientists hope to investigate the main body of the meteor, which is currently at the bottom of Chebarkul Lake. Once it is raised, it should provide more answers for what may have caused the celestial rock to melt before its impact on Earth.