Meteorite recovered from Russian lake

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A large chunk of the suspected meteor that exploded above Russia in February was retrieved from the bottom of a lake by a team of divers.

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Chebarkul Lake

Some eight months after a meteor exploded above Russia (video) in February, a team of divers recovered a large chunk of the suspected space rock from a lake in about 43 feet of water. At five feet long and more than 1,200 pounds, scientists said it was the largest meteorite fragment yet recovered.

The large fragment was wrapped and placed on a metal sheet while still underwater, but the boulder fractured into three pieces when it was pulled ashore and hoisted with levers and rope for weighing. The scale being used also broke when it reached 1,255 pounds. Copyright 2014 Reuters

The large fragment was wrapped and placed on a metal sheet while still underwater, but the boulder fractured into three pieces when it was pulled ashore and hoisted with levers and rope for weighing. The scale being used also broke when it reached 1,255 pounds.

"The preliminary examination… shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.This chunk is most probably one of the top 10 biggest meteorite fragments ever found." Sergey Zamozdra, Chelyabinsk State University associate professor

Russian media reported that divers have found 12 pieces in the lake in the months following the Feb. 15 incident, but that only four or five had been confirmed as actual meteorite fragments.

Russian researchers reported on Feb. 18 that they had collected dozens of meteorite fragments after several days searching around the frozen Chebarkul Lake, about 60 miles west of the city of Chelyabinsk. Until Oct. 16, divers had previously failed to find a sizable meteorite fragment underwater. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Russian researchers reported on Feb. 18 that they had collected dozens of meteorite fragments after several days searching around the frozen Chebarkul Lake, about 60 miles west of the city of Chelyabinsk. Until Oct. 16, divers had previously failed to find a sizable meteorite fragment underwater.

Scientists reported recovering 53 small, dark and porous meteorite fragments from around the lake, the largest of which was about a quarter of an inch long. A team from the Urals Federal University was sent to the lake "as soon as we heard of the meteor falling," said Viktor Grokhovsky, a professor at the school. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Scientists reported recovering 53 small, dark and porous meteorite fragments from around the lake, the largest of which was about a quarter of an inch long. A team from the Urals Federal University was sent to the lake "as soon as we heard of the meteor falling," said Viktor Grokhovsky, a professor at the school.

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"We are certainly dealing with the debris of the object that traveled here from outer space." Viktor Grokhovsky, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences meteorite committee

Grokhovsky said Feb. 18 that the meteor was a "regular chondrite, which contained at least 10% metallic iron and nickel alloy as well as chrysolite and sulfite."

Listings for "meteorite tours" through Chelyabinsk appeared after the event for about $166. Residents and scientists urged the local government in October to erect a statue commemorating the meteor strike. Hiking trails were also being considered for tourists interested in the incident.

While scientists continued to search for meteorite fragments, enterprising locals started listing supposed pieces online. Several ads appeared on the Russian classified website <a href="http://www.avito.ru/chelyabinsk/kollektsionirovanie/chelyabinskij_meteorit_137447662">Avito.ru</a>, with one listing asking a little more than $10,000 for a small chunk. Source: 66.img.avito.st

While scientists continued to search for meteorite fragments, enterprising locals started listing supposed pieces online. Several ads appeared on the Russian classified website Avito.ru, with one listing asking a little more than $10,000 for a small chunk.

"The only way to tell for sure is to look at the specimen under a microscope… The only truly definitive test, though, is to examine the specimen for oxygen isotopes. Anything that originated on earth will fall within a particular range of isotopes. Anything outside this range will mean it is extra-terrestrial in origin." Dr. Natalie Starkey, Open University meteorite specialist

Experts cautioned would-be meteorite buyers about fake specimens. "The first thing to look for is the 'fusion crust'… the exterior of the meteorite will be shiny, smooth and black," said Starkey.

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