Skip to main content

Russian scientists track down fragments of Urals meteor

By Alla Eshchenko and Michael Pearson, CNN
updated 1:36 PM EST, Mon February 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Black market for claimed meteorites emerges in Russia, state media report
  • Scientists found some small fragments on frozen Lake Chebarkul
  • A larger fragment may be under the frozen surface of the lake, scientists say
  • The explosion Friday damaged thousands of buildings and injured 1,000 people

(CNN) -- What was in that meteor that exploded spectacularly over Russia's Urals region last week? Radioactive spores? Tiny Martians? Kryptonite?

Nope, just rock and a bit of iron, according to Russian scientists who tracked fragments of the meteor to the frozen surface of Lake Chebarkul.

Scientists from Urals Federal University found 53 small meteorites on the surface of the lake and believe a larger fragment is under water, said Viktor Grokhovsky, the scientist who led the effort.

The fragments point to a rocky meteor with about 10% iron mixed in, Grokhovsky told CNN.

11 meteor tweets we wish we'd thought of

The meteor exploded Friday in the air near Chelyabinsk, leaving behind nothing but meteorites, thousands of broken windows and some pretty spectacular video of it streaking across the sky before exploding in a noisy, luminous fireball.

Videos capture exploding meteor in sky
Over 100 tons of material falls daily
Witness: Meteor explosion 'terrifying'
A large chunk of a meteor that exploded over Russia is found in a lake on Friday, February 15. A large chunk of a meteor that exploded over Russia is found in a lake on Friday, February 15.
Meteor explodes over Russia
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Photos: Meteor explodes over Russia Photos: Meteor explodes over Russia

The explosion startled residents going about their morning business and damaged more than 4,700 buildings, mostly apartments. About 3,500 had been repaired as of Monday, the state-run RIA Novosti news service reported.

About 1,000 people suffered injuries, mostly from flying glass. One woman was flown to Moscow for treatment of a spinal injury, state media reported.

Russia starts cleanup after meteor strike

State officials said 19 people remained hospitalized Monday, RIA Novosti reported.

Local officials have estimated the damage at more than 1 billion rubles ($33.2 million), RIA Novosti said. The state applied for 500 million rubles in aid from the federal government to help make repairs, the news service reported.

Chelyabinsk Gov. Mikhail Yurevich promised compensation to all those affected, the official Itar-Tass news agency said.

Police are also monitoring online auction sites and social media after reports of people trying to sell what they claim to be meteorites from Friday's explosion, RIA Novosti said. Some of the sellers are asking as much as $4,000 each, state-run RT television reported.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, said the meteor released nearly 500 kilotons of energy, about 33 times more than the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

Opinion: Meteor shows why it is crucial to keep an eye on the sky

NASA estimated the meteor's diameter at 55 feet (17 meters) and said it was the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor exploded over Tunguska in remote Siberia, destroying 80 million trees over an area of 820 square miles.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said last week.

"When you have a fireball of this size, we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface, and in this case there were probably some large ones."

The event was unrelated to the passage of another, larger asteroid some 17,100 miles from earth on Friday, according to scientists.

Opinion: A meteor and asteroid: 1 in 100 million odds

5 things to know about meteors and asteroids

CNN's Alla Eshchenko reported from Moscow and Michael Pearson wrote and reported in Atlanta. CNN's Phil Black and Laura Smith-Spark also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT