On 15th February a meteor crashed in Russia’s Ural Mountains, in the Chelnybinsk region of Russia, 800 miles east of Moscow, injuring at least 950 people and causing twenty million pounds worth of damage, according to local authorities.
Scientists have confirmed that the meteor that crashed to earth was about 55 feet in diameter, was composed mainly of iron and weighed around 10,000 tons; making it the largest object to strike the Earth in more than a century. Not only this, but the global network of sensors recorded the meteor to release 500 kilotons of energy, shockingly, this figure is more than thirty times that of the amount of energy released from the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
It can be understood that the meteorite which struck Russia originated at the earliest stages of solar time, in the disk of gas and dust that swirled around the early sun. The meteorite is likely to have become a denizen of the asteroid belt found between Mars and Jupiter, until it fell out of orbit, possibly after a collision. The meteor would have been flying near Earth when it got pulled away by gravity, travelling in a blaze of heat and energy, until it fell to the ground in Russia.
Soon after the meteor struck Earth, a rush to find fragments of the space rock began. It has been estimated by scientists that chunks of the meteor could be worth up to £1400 per gram, interestingly this figure is more than forty times the current cost of gold. The fragments were only 0.5-1 cm in diameter, but sellers were keen to get them on the internet and cash in on the meteor’s unexpected landing.
Photograph: Domonic Alves