The Chelyabinsk meteorite is the fragmented remains of the large Chelyabinsk meteor of 15 February 2013 which reached the ground after the meteor's passage through the atmosphere. The descent of the meteor, visible as a brilliant superbolide in the morning sky, caused a series of shock waves that shattered windows, damaged approximately 7,200 buildings and left 1,500 people injured. The resulting fragments were scattered over a wide area.
The largest found fragments having a total mass of 654 kg (1,442 lb) were raised from the bottom of the Chebarkul lake on 16 October 2013.
The meteor and meteorite are named after Chelyabinsk Oblast, over which the meteor exploded. An initial proposal was to name the meteorite after Lake Chebarkul, where one of its major fragments impacted and made a 6-metre-wide hole in the frozen lake surface.
The asteroid had an approximate size of 18 metres (59 ft) and a mass of about 9,100 tonnes (10,000 short tons) before it entered the denser parts of Earth's atmosphere and started to ablate. At an altitude of about 23.3 km (14.5 miles) the body exploded in an air burst. Meteorite fragments of the body landed on the ground.
Scientists collected 53 samples nearby a 6-metre-wide hole in the ice of Lake Chebarkul, thought to be the result of a single meteorite fragment impact. The specimens are of various sizes, with the largest being 5 kg (11 lb), and initial laboratory analysis confirmed their meteoric origin.
In June 2013, Russian scientists reported that further investigation by magnetic imaging below the location of the ice hole in Lake Chebarkul has identified a 60-centimetre-large (2.0 ft) meteorite buried in the mud at the bottom of the lake. An operation to recover it from the lake began in September 10, 2013, and concluded in 16 October 2013 with the raising of the rock with an estimated mass of 654 kg (1,442 lb). It was examined by scientists and then handed over to the local authorities. It was then put on display at the Chelyabinsk State Museum of Local Lore, causing protests from the followers of the recently set-up 'Church of Chelyabinsk Meteorite'.
In the aftermath of the superbolide air burst, a large number of small meteorite fragments fell on areas west of Chelyabinsk, including Deputatskoye, generally at terminal velocity, about the speed of a piece of gravel dropped from a skyscraper. Local residents and schoolchildren located and picked up some of the meteorites, many located in snowdrifts, by following a visible hole that had been left in the outer surface of the snow. Speculators have been active in the informal market for meteorite fragments that has rapidly emerged.
As of 18 February 2013[update], some reports surfaced of people trying to sell fake meteorites on the Internet.
On February 15 (anniversary of the event), during the 2014 Winter Olympics, winners received medals with embedded fragments of the meteorite.
The "Church of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite" has been set up in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The founder of the church, Andrey Breyvichko, claims the large meteorite fragment retrieved from the lake contains a coded "set of moral and legal norms that will help people live at a new stage of spiritual knowledge development." Breyvichko opposes the operation to expose the meteorite fragment in a museum, claiming that only "psychic priests" of his church are qualified to decode and handle the celestial body, which they want to be placed in a temple to be built in Chelyabinsk for the purpose.
Size comparison of the meteor size to some other objects
The meteor's path relative to ground.
Trajectory projection of the Chelyabinsk superbolide and strewnfield map of recovered meteorites. The map shows the recorded find locations of 253 Chelyabinsk meteorites, of which 199 were documented with the weight of the respective masses (status of July 18, 2013)