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People gathered Wednesday to watch the recovery of a chunk of meteorite from Chebarkul Lake near Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow. The meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk in February.

Alexander Firsov • Associated Press,

The meteorite’s contrail over Chelyabinsk in February.

Associated Press file,

Russian meteorite recovered in lake

  • Article by: DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
  • New York Times
  • October 16, 2013 - 7:54 PM

 

– Russian officials Wednesday retrieved the largest fragment so far of a meteor that exploded in February over the city of Chelyabinsk, but as divers and a mechanical winch lifted it from the bottom of a lake, the rock broke into three pieces, and then broke the scale — literally — when all together it weighed in at more than 1,250 pounds.

Although a hole in the ice of Lake Chebarkul, southwest of Chelyabinsk, had made clear where the meteorite landed, it took seven months of searching and a detailed sonar analysis to pinpoint its location, at a depth of about 40 feet and covered by about eight feet of silt.

It then took another month of planning and work to prepare to lift it, a process that culminated Wednesday in front of a crowd gathered on the shore, with the events broadcast live on television. After divers assured that the rock was secured with ropes, the regional governor, Mikhail Yurevich, hit a button to start the winch that pulled it to land.

As it was recovered, the meteorite — which Russian scientists have estimated is more than 4.5 billion years old, or about as old as the solar system — was caught in a tangle of colorful ropes and cords, almost like an old piece of furniture tied to the top of a station wagon.

“Come on, finish up,” an official shouted as a crowd of photographers and cameramen clustered around for a close look. “It will be available in the museum.”

Scientists gave a sizable range of estimates of how large the meteor was as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, with some saying it weighed as much as 17 tons, and others about 10 tons.

More than 1,200 people were injured, mostly by shattered glass, when the meteor burst into the Earth’s atmosphere with a blinding streak of light and a series of sonic booms, before exploding 20 to 30 miles above Chelyabinsk.

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