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Russian Scientists Test Meteor Fragments After Chelyabinsk Blast

Monday, 18 Feb 2013 06:39 AM

MOSCOW — More than 50 meteor fragments are being examined after an explosion over Chelyabinsk last week sent shock waves across Russia’s Urals region, shattering glass and injuring more than 1,200 people.

Scientists found 53 fragments ranging in size from 1 millimeter to 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) near Chebarkul Lake, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the city of Chelyabinsk, Alexei Ishchenko, a member of the expedition from the Urals Federal University, said by phone.

The meteor blast over the Chelyabinsk region, which has a population of 3.6 million people, was the largest since the Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908, which flattened more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of forest, according to NASA.

The object entered the atmosphere at 9:20 a.m. local time on Feb. 15, hours before an unrelated asteroid the length of half of a football field hurtled past the Earth.

“The fragments were found deep in the snow and ice around the lake,” Ishchenko said. “They’re now being tested.”

An 8-meter hole was punched in the ice, while divers failed to find pieces under water, Rossiya 24 reported Feb. 16.

The rocky pieces have contain about 10 percent iron, Victor Grokhovsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Science’s meteor committee who headed the expedition, said in a statement on the university’s website.

Before hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, the Chelyabinsk object was about 17 meters and had a mass of about 10,000 tons, NASA said in a statement.

Most of the injuries reported in the Chelyabinsk region were caused by flying glass, according to Governor Mikhail Yurevich’s website.

About 200,000 square meters (50 acres) of glass were broken by the shock wave, with total damage estimated at 1 billion rubles ($33 million), according to the governor’s website.

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