Moscow, Feb 18: Three days after a meteor broke up over the Urals region of Russia, scientists at a local university said that they have found several pieces of the celestial body.
Earlier, officials stated that divers closely examined Lake Chebarkul for meteorite fragments but in vain. On Monday, scientists at the Urals Federal University released a photo which shows 53 small pieces of the meteor arranged in such a manner that a person who knows Cyrillic can read it as 'Meteorite Chebarkul'.
The fragments ranging in diameter from 0.5 to 1 cm were seen lying scattered near Lake Chebarkul, the scientists said. RIA news agency quoted Viktor Grokhovsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences as saying: "We just completed tests and confirm that the pieces of matter found by our experts around Lake Chebarkul are really meteorites. These are classified as ordinary chondrites, or stony meteorites, with an iron content of about 10 percent."
According to the US space agency NASA, the meteor explosion in the Russian skies was 30 times more powerful than the atomic blast at Hiroshima in Aug 1945. The fact that the shockwave on Feb 15 left thousands of homes partially damaged indicates the intensity of the explosion. Car alarms were set off and windows of houses were blown out.
Given that a 26-ft-wide crater opened up in Lake Chebarkul immediately after the massive boom, a big meteorite could well have fallen into the mass of frozen water. However, officials are yet to confirm this.
People living in the vicinty are reportedly trying their best to collect the meteorite fragments. They feel even small pieces will fetch them a great fortune. Advertisements have already been placed on the Internet by some of these persons.
It remains to be seen what price meteorite hunters will pay for the tiny bits of the meteor that caused a great scare on the very day that an asteroid 2012 DA14 passed by the Earth.