Thousands of pieces of the Chelyabinsk meteorite have been found since the monster fireball torched the sky over the Ural Mountains region of Russia on Feb. 15.
Many were small button-sized pieces. with a smattering of larger stones. The largest to date weighs 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) and was picked up by a resident near the village of Timiryazevsky not far from Chelyabinsk. The big prize however still lurks at the bottom of Chebarkul Lake, and today they found a piece of the beast.
Divers working together with scientists at the Ural Federal University (UrFU) fished up a fragment from the muck at the bottom of the lake earlier today. You’ll recall this is where chunk of the meteorite punched a 20-foot (6-meter) hole through the ice.
Diver Alex Yahov spotted a suspicious rock last night but had difficulty retrieving it from the mud. On a second try this morning he freed the rock and brought it up for all to see, including Viktor Grokhovsky, associate professor at the UrFU Institute of Physics and Technology, and leader of the expedition. Grokhovsky examined the rock pronounced it the genuine item.
While the Google translation of the original story is a rough read, Grokhovsky and the divers believe the main mass of the meteorite – estimated at around half a ton – still remains mired in the muck.
Their instruments indicate a magnetic anomaly at the spot. Finding a fragment bodes well for the recovery effort – a sign the team’s getting closer to the big prize. All they need to do now is follow the trail of breadcrumbs.
The freshness of their find surprises me. You’d think after being at the bottom of a lake for over 7 months a chunk that size (big as a fist?) would turn into a rusty, crumbly mess. I’ve seen worse on eBay and those pieces were recovered from dry ground. Perhaps it was protected from the corrosive effects of oxygen by its muddy burial. Stay tuned for more developments.