2013 Russia Meteor Blast: Debris Collection Determines the Space Rock Composition

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | February 19, 2013 5:37 PM EST

Scientists have collected the debris from the meteor blast that hit Russia on February 15 to examine the nature and composition of the space rock. A debate has now begun on the question if it was a meteor or a comet that caused the unexpected blast in Chelyabinsk.

The 53 space rock debris found on the frozen Lake Chebarkul surface is just a part of the lengthy process of analyzing the composition. The Urals Federal University conducted the analysis on the 53 pieces of debris on early Monday.

Viktor Grokhovsky, a meteorite committee member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, became in-charge of the scientific debris search operation. "There are a lot more fragments to be discovered in many other places, it's only a matter of time. We sent our team to the lake as soon as we heard of the meteor falling as it is extremely important to find and study fresh debris," Grokhovsky stated.

The scientists revealed that the debris collected were bits of chondrite which is a type of stony meteorite containing at lest 10% metallic iron and nickel alloy as well as chrysolite and sulfite. "It was a stone meteorite that belongs to a class of ordinary chondrite meteorites," Grokhovsky confirmed. The recovered space rock debris had a diameter bigger than 1 cm and traces of the mineral olivine were also found.

The search for the 2013 Russia meteor blast remains is being conducted at an approximately 6-meter wide hole in Lake Chebarkul about 50 miles from Chelyabinsk. Locals discovered the impact site after the meteor finally hit the ground.

"The fact that the divers' initial inspection produced nothing absolutely doesn't mean a big chunk of the meteorite is not there. We certainly need to take another go at the bottom of the lake as soon as possible and do it as professionally as we can," Grokhovsky declared.

Scientists are planning to name the meteor Chebarkul after the lake where the first debris was found. However, some scientists disagree on the precise nature of the space rock claiming that the object that unexpectedly hit southern Russia was actually a comet.

"In Chelyabinsk, we saw a type of comet in which there was almost no meteorite remaining. It was mainly made up of a mass of ice, of which no trace is left," Alexander Bagrov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Astronomy Institute, stated.

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