21 February 2013, 19:52

Chelyabinsk meteorite is of chondrite type – scientists

Chelyabinsk meteorite is of chondrite type – scientists

Russian scientists have presented the first results of the chemical analysis of fragments of the meteorite that exploded in the Chelyabinsk region late last week. The analysis that was conducted with the help of sophisticated equipment confirmed the extraterrestrial origin of these fragments.

About 50 fragments were found in the area. They are less than a centimeter in size and belong to the chondrite type, the most common variation of meteorites found on Earth, expert Viktor Grokhovsky of the Urals Federal University, told the Voice of Russia on Thursday.

"The fragments contain a standard number of minerals, including olivine, pyroxene, troilite and kamacite, Grokhovsky said. These minerals that can be discovered only in outer space confirm the fragments’ extraterrestrial nature."

Scientists also denied rumors about the fragments allegedly containing new life forms, such as bacteria and viruses, something that is still being discussed on the Internet. Scientists explained that the chondrite-type meteorites cannot contain elements of organic compounds.

One of the larger fragments, yet to be plucked from Chebarkul Lake, left an eight-meter-wide hole in the ice covering the lake.

Mikhail Nazarov, deputy head of the Committee for Meteorite Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, likened the exploration of meteorites to inter-planetary expeditions. As for the Chelyabinsk meteorite, it may shed more light on the orifing of the Universe and the Solar System, Nazarov added.

"Meteorites appeared during the early stages of the formation of the Solar System, which is why they give us information about relevant processes," Nazarov said.

It is still unclear why no earth-based space surveillance station was able to duly spot the 10,000-ton meteorite, which was only tracked down after it entered the Earth’s lower atmosphere. The fireball moved at a speed of about 30 kilometers per second, Mikhail Nazarov said.

"We failed to spot the asteroid-turned-meteorite in outer space because it was not that large, Nazarov says. The meteorite was moving in the lower atmosphere for half an hour, something that prevented us from taking any pre-emptive steps, including the evacuation of the population."

Meanwhile, local authorities are grappling with the aftermath of the meteorite blast that injured more than 1,000 people and damaged lots of buildings. About 40 people remain in hospitals, with no casualties reported.

Russia’s Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov expressed hope that the Chelyabinsk meteorite will prompt scientists to create a comprehensive meteorite surveillance system. He also urged scientists to find ways to minimize the implications of meteoric shower.

Some pundits have, meanwhile, pointed to the necessity of re-introducing astronomy lessons in Russian schools, something that will help children to get better knowledge of meteorites.

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