We’ve seen the first fragments of meteorites from last Friday’s Russian fireball. I thought you’d also like a look at more recent, high-quality close-ups of larger pieces. All these images are from the Laboratory of Meteoritics at the Vernadsky Institute in Moscow. Scientists at the Institute are calling the new meteorites “Chebarkul”, after the town where the first fragments were collected from the lake of the same name. A formal name has yet to be announced.
The Russian meteorite resembles Park Forest, a meteor that came blazing out of the sky over the Chicago suburb Park Forest shortly before midnight March 26, 2003 and dropped numerous stones totaling about 40 lbs. (18 kilograms). One struck a fire station and another crashed through the roof of Noe Garza’s home and into a bedroom where a young boy was sleeping. Luckily, no one was hurt.
Chebarkul’s preliminary classification is L5 or LL5 chondrite; in plain English, that’s a stony meteorite with a low iron content heated to the point where much of its original mineral structure has re-crystallized. Gouged from the crust of a distant asteroid long ago, the huge boulder was pitched by the planet Jupiter into an Earth-crossing orbit and ultimately met its fate on Feb.15, 2013. Park Forest is classified as an L5 and has a similar history.
The Institute further adds:
“According to Cyril Lorenz, meteorite scientist of the Laboratory of Meteoritics, further study of the samples revealed that meteor shower samples have different compositions — chondrite, breccia (ie. broken rock) and impact melt. Thus (the) meteorite is a shock melted breccia.”
Animation of the orbit Chelybinsk meteoroid via Ferrin and Zuluaga. Meteoroid is the name given a meteor while still orbiting the sun before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
Astrophysicists Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin just released a paper describing a preliminary orbit for the Chebarkul / Chelyabinsk meteoroid. They used video taken by a camera at the Revolution Square in the city of Chelyabinsk as well as other videos made by eyewitnesses in the nearby town of Korkino to calculate the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere.
Although some uncertainties remain, the object is (was) a member of the Apollo family of asteroids, named for 1862 Apollo, discovered in 1932. Apollos cross Earth’s orbit on a routine basis when they’re nearest the sun. Chebarkul’s most recent crossing was of course its last.
Sasha Zarezina, 8, who lives in a small Siberian village, looks for and finds meteorites in the snow on Feb. 19, 2013. Video by Ben Solomon, New York TImes
More and more pieces of this erstwhile Apollo are turning up all the time. You’ll enjoy the video of Sasha hopping around in the snow digging for meteorite gold. Makes me wish I could be there not only looking for space rocks with the kids but covering the story with my camera.