Meteorite


Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History has obtained 234 pieces of the meteorite that slammed into Russia’s Urals region in February from a donation by meteorite collector Terry Boudreaux, the museum has said on its website.

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More than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of space stones are on public display at the Field Museum starting from Wednesday afternoon. The fragments will join the museum’s collection of more than 6,500 pieces of meteorites.

Boudreaux, one of the world’s greatest meteorite collectors, sent a team to Russia the day after the huge meteorite hit the Urals city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, in order to buy parts of it.

The meteorite entered the atmosphere undetected by existing space-monitoring systems and fragmented into many hundred pieces which were recovered quickly from deep snow.

“The local villagers actually went out in three feet of snow on their snow skis and looked for holes in the snow. They would dig down with plastic shovels and find these little pieces and throw them in their pockets,” abclocal.go.com quoted Boudreaux as saying.

Field Museum scientist and assistant curator of meteorite studies Philipp Heck said: “I expected we would get a piece like this. But we got more than a kilogram of pieces there laid out on the table there.”

The Chelyabinsk meteorite caused a massive sonic boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city, injuring 1,500 people in the area.

NASA estimates the meteorite was roughly 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter when it struck Earth’s atmosphere, travelling faster than the speed of sound, and exploded in a fireball brighter than the morning sun.

 

MOSCOW, RIA Novosti, April 10

http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20130215/179495177/Meteorite-Fragments-Hit-Russia.html

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
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Scientists doubt that the supposed meteorite strike that sickened some 200 residents of Peru over the weekend actually involved anything from space.
Based on reports of fumes emanating from the crater, some scientists actually suspect that the event could have been some kind of geyser-like explosion rather than a meteorite impact.
“Statistically, it’s far more likely to have come from below than from above,” said Don Yeomans, head of the Near Earth Object Program at NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The noxious fumes that have supposedly sickened curious locals who went to examine the crater would seem to indicate hydrothermal activity, such as a local gas explosion, because “meteorites don’t give off odors,” Yeomans told SPACE.com.

Skepticism warranted
Several times in recent history, reports of meteorite impacts have turned out to be untrue after scientific examination. Doubt in the scientific community was as rampant Wednesday as the speculations out of Peru.
Details surrounding the incident are also increasing experts’ skepticism.

“Many of the reported features of the crater (“boiling water,” sulphurous fumes, etc.) point to a geological mechanism of the crater formation,” wrote Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University in England, in a daily newsletter that catalogues research and media coverage of space rock impacts and other threats to humanity.

“I would not be surprised if, after careful analysis,” he added, “the alleged meteorite impact reveals itself to be just another ‘meteorwrong.'”

It’s not impossible that the crater was left by a meteorite, Yeomans said, but if so, then the impact object most likely was small, based on the size of the crater.

It would also probably have been a metal meteorite, because those are the only kind of small meteorites that don’t burn up as they plummet through Earth’s atmosphere, he added. Small stony meteorites rarely make it to the surface.

A couple features of the event reports suggest there was a space rock involved, said geophysicist Larry Grossman of the University of Chicago.

The bright streak of light and loud bangs seen and heard by locals are consistent with a meteor streaking through Earth’s atmosphere, he said. Most meteors do burn up, never becoming meteorites (which is what they’re called if they reach the surface).

Because no one actually saw anything impact at the crater site, it’s hard to say whether a space rock was involved because they are often deceptive as to where they will land.

Many times, people swear a meteor landed nearby when in fact it was so far away that it dipped below the local horizon but never actually struck the ground.

“Sometimes these things land hundreds of thousands of miles away from where [people] think they will land,” Grossman said.
Investigation needed Pictures of the crater show that the hole in the ground appears fresh, Grossman said, and the debris strewn around it is consistent with a meteorite impact but also could have been caused by digging.

And there are no previous reports of noxious fumes emanating from meteorite remnants or their craters, he said.
“If the noxious fumes came from the hole, it wasn’t because the meteorite fell there,” Grossman said, saying they would like have come from something already in the ground.

Grossman said that to determine whether the crater was made by a meteorite, the water in the hole must be pumped out and any large chunks of rock at the bottom should be examined to see if they are consistent with meteoritic composition.
Peruvian geologists are on their way to examine the crater, according to news reports.

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LIMA, Peru – A fiery meteorite crashed into southern Peru over the weekend, experts confirmed on Wednesday. But they were still puzzling over claims that it gave off fumes that sickened 200 people.


Witnesses told reporters that a fiery ball fell from the sky and smashed into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border Saturday morning.
Jose Mechare, a scientist with Peru’s Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute, said a geologist had confirmed that it was a “rocky meteorite,” based on the fragments analyzed.


He said water in the meteorite’s muddy crater boiled for maybe 10 minutes from the heat and could have given off a vapor that sickened people, and scientists were taking water samples.
“We are not completely certain that there was no contamination,” Mechare said.


Jorge Lopez, director of the health department in the state where the meteorite crashed, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that 200 people suffered headaches, nausea and respiratory problems caused by “toxic” fumes emanating from the crater, which is some 65 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
But a team of doctors sent to the isolated site, 3 1/2 hours travel from the state capital of Puno, said they found no evidence the meteorite had sickened people, the Lima newspaper El Comercio reported Wednesday.


Modesto Montoya, a member of the team, was quoted as saying doctors also had found no sign of radioactive contamination among families living nearby, but had taken blood samples from 19 people to be sure.
He said fear may have provoked psychosomatic ailments.


“When a meteorite falls, it produces horrid sounds when it makes contact with the atmosphere,” he told the paper. “It is as if a giant rock is being sanded. Those sounds could have frightened them.”
Justina Limache, 74, told El Comercio that when she heard the thunderous roar from the sky, she abandoned her flock of alpacas and ran to her small home with her 8-year-old granddaughter. She said that after the meteorite struck, small rocks rained down on the roof of her house for several minutes and she feared the house was going to collapse.
Meteor expert Ursula Marvin said that if people were sickened, “it wouldn’t be the meteorite itself, but the dust it raises.”


A meteorite “wouldn’t get much gas out of the Earth,” said Marvin, who has studied the objects since 1961 at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. “It’s a very superficial thing.

By Monte Hayes
The Associated Press
Updated: 4:45 p.m. ET Sept 19, 2007