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Giant chunk of Russian meteorite found in lake

Divers at a Russian lake have pulled out a 5-foot-wide, half-ton hunk of meteorite from the Chelyabinsk meteor that streaked across the sky in February.

The large black fragment smashed a nearly 20-foot-wide hole into the ice covering Lake Chebarkul. It could potentially be the most massive fragment of the dramatic fireball captured on video across the region, and researchers are calling it a once in a lifetime moment.

"It's a once-in-a-100-year event. It's very exciting from that point of view," said meteoriticist Caroline Smith, who curates the Natural History Museum's meteorite collection in London and was following the find's progress.

The rock weighed in at about 1,257 pounds Wednesday but it may be heavier because it broke the scale, Smith noted — and broke into pieces as well.

Even though this is a massive meteorite fragment, it's a tiny portion of the original missile, a roughly 56-foot-wide space rock that traveled about 40,000 mph and vaporized roughly 15 miles above the surface, resulting in an explosion measured between 300 and 500 kilotons, roughly the same as a modern nuclear bomb, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Fragments rained down from the sky and several such meteorites have been collected since then.

The specimen appears to be an ordinary chondrite, the most common meteorite to hit Earth, Smith said. Still, it could be useful for scientists wondering what size of space rock could do major damage on impact.

People look Wednesday at what scientists believe to be a more than half-ton chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteor that streaked across the sky in a dramatic fireball in February.

Associated Press

People look Wednesday at what scientists believe to be a more than half-ton chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteor that streaked across the sky in a dramatic fireball in February.

Giant chunk of Russian meteorite found in lake 10/16/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 12:02am]

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