Divers in Russia lifted a massive chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteorite from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul on Wednesday. The boulder is about the size of a coffee table and is the largest fragment of the meteorite recovered so far.
The meteorite exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, injuring more than 1,000 people and blowing out windows across the city. The blast also scattered shards of the space rock across the region and left holes in the ice-covered Lake Chebarkul.
An especially massive hole in the ice led scientists to assume big chunks of the rock fell into the lake, reports Space.com. Later surveys revealed possible meteorite fragments buried under the mud at the bottom of the lake.
Since then, recovery crews pulled five chunks of the Russian meteorite from the lake. The five-foot-long chunk dredged up on Wednesday is the largest, and was located 65 feet below the surface. After it was pulled to the surface, the coffee table-sized rock fractured into three pieces.
The BBC notes that the scale the rock was weighed on also broke when it hit the 1,255 pound mark. Dr. Caroline Smith, curator of meteors at London’s Natural History Museum, confirmed that the rock was a meteorite, because of features known as fusion crust and regmaglypts seen in photos and video of the object.
Sergey Zamozdra, an associate professor at Chelyabinsk State University, added that an initial examination of the meteorite confirms it is part of the Russian meteorite, though only a fraction of it. He added, “The chunk is most probably one of the top 10 biggest meteorite fragment ever found.”
The Chelyabinsk meteorite is made from a mix of ordinary chondrites (the meteors that crash into Earth most often). From the composition of the space rock, scientists think it may have crashed into another asteroid before it impacted our planet this year. Researchers estimate the Russian meteorite was an asteroid 55 feet wide, which once weighed 10,000 tons.
[Image by Nikita Plekhanov via Wikimedia Commons]