Dredging the Costa Concordia from the depths into which it sank has made major news lately, but I think this deep-sea discovery is even more noteworthy and far less sad. Divers hauled up a 1,255-pound, five-foot-long meteorite from Lake Chebarkul in Russia. They won’t scale it and cook it for dinner, but that’s still one hell of a fishing trip.
You might remember reading and seeing videos (such as the one below) last February when a huge meteor barreled into the atmosphere and set off shockwaves that injured over a thousand residents and caused significant damage to buildings in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Ever wonder what happened to that meteor? Wonder no more.
Scientists believe that while it was in space, the meteoroid likely weighed about 10,000 tons. What wasn’t shattered or incinerated by the atmosphere crashed through the ice of central Russia’s Lake Chebarkul (about 900 miles east of Moscow). Even though the hole in the ice indicated where the meteorite entered the water, it took months of searching and sonar to locate it under 40 feet of water and eight feet of lake mud. Preparations to recover the fragment took another month, as divers wrapped it in protective covering and placed it on a metal sheet to gradually move it closer to shore. The final step, dredging the meteorite, only took a few minutes. The whole process went smoothly — until scientists tried to weigh it.
As it was lifted off the ground with ropes and levers, the meteorite broke into three pieces. Then it broke the scale. Meteorite, you are clearly not the biggest loser.
The ginormous rock had about 10 minutes to breathe sweet oxygen and pose for photos before scientists started packing it up for transport to a facility where it will be thoroughly examined. Initial estimates suggests that the rock is over 4.5 billion years old, which is roughly the age of the solar system. Phew! That’s a lot of candles on the birthday cake!
Believe it or not, this meteorite isn’t anywhere near the biggest ever found (even if you combine the size and mass of all three pieces). That honor belongs to the Hoba meteorite located in Namibia, estimated to weigh about 66 tons.