On the 15 February 2013, a large meteor stretching almost about 19 metres in diameter and weighing 12,000 tonnes was speeding towards earth at 65,000 kilometers per hour. It entered the earth’s atmosphere over Siberia, Russia.

Chelyabinsk meteorite fragment fact file

Date

2013

Found

Near Chelyabinsk, Ural Federal District, Russia, February 2013

Made from

90% silicate, 5% sulfide and 5% iron-nickel

Weight

141kg

Did you know?

The shock wave generated by the meteor explosion was so powerful that it travelled twice around the globe.

How did the meteorite fragment arrive in Edinburgh?

National Museums Scotland recently acquired a fragment from Anne Black of Denver, Colorado, to add to the meteorite collection. 

The fragment of meteorite

Above: Fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite in the National Museums Scotland collection.

Above: The meteorite speeding towards earth. Photo © Alex Alishevskikh at photos.cyberborean.org.

Where did the meteorite hit earth?

The explosion took place over the snow covered city of Chelyabinsk in Russia, near the border with Kazakhstan.

In an article in Physics TodayChelyabinsk: Portrait of an asteroid airburst, authors David A. Kring and Mark Boslough explain:

The asteroid passed about 40 km south of the Chelyabinsk city center... A few rocky remnants continued to move westward, the smallest on paths that were altered by the wind as they fell; the largest landed 30 km farther in Lake Chebarkul at the foot of the Ural Mountains.

What did the meteorite look like as it fell?

For a moment, the light from the fireball shone brighter than the sun. Some witnesses also reported feeling intense heat as it fell. The heat caused by friction generated huge internal pressures eventually causing the meteor to explode.

3D simulation of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion by Mark Boslough

Above: This 3D simulation of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion by Mark Boslough was rendered by Brad Carvey using the CTH code on Sandia National Laboratories' Red Sky supercomputer.

The explosion created a huge cloud of dust and gas, followed by a massive shock wave and a huge amount of meteor fragments.

What was the impact in Chelyabinsk?

The impact of this meteorite caused destruction around the city. The shockwave was powerful enough to injure around 1,500 people and shatter more than 3,600 windows in apartments and commercial buildings. The damage to the city was estimated at 1 billion Rubles (£11million).

How often do meteors fall to earth?

Falling meteors are statistically random and hundreds of meteorites fall on us all over Earth, most of which fall in the ocean. The Cheylabinsk Meteorite falling in 2013 was the most dramatic near-Earth asteroid airburst since the 1908 Tunguska impact blast in Siberia.

3D simulation of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion by Mark Boslough

Above: This 3D simulation of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion by Mark Boslough was rendered by Brad Carvey using the CTH code on Sandia National Laboratories' Red Sky supercomputer. Andrea Carvey composited the wireframe tail. Photo by Olga Kruglova.

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