Chelyabinsk meteorite donated to Field Museum

Tue, 04/09/2013 - 17:50 -- pheck

Volunteer Steven Zitowsky counts and documents the donated Chelyabinsk pieces.

On April 9, 2013 the Field Museum's Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies has obtained more than 2.2 pounds and 234 pieces of the Chelyabinsk meteorite through a donation of meteorite collector Terry Boudreaux. Pieces of the meteorite are available for scientific research. Research on that meteorite will help us better understand the history of the solar system in particular its collisional history.

On the morning of February 15, 2013 an unexpected visitor blazed through the mid-morning sky of Russia near the city of Chelyabinsk. It produced a spectacular fireball accompanied by a shockwave that resulted in a sonic boom. The shockwave made windows shatter which resulted in injuries to more than 1,500 people and disrupted operations of businesses and industrial facilities in the region. It is very unusual that meteorite falls cause injuries and affect our daily lives. To date there is no documented case of a human casualty caused by a meteorite although some injuries have been reported from previous falls. This event was probably a once in a 100 year event and made people realize how vulnerable we are to meteorite impacts.

Thanks to the many video observations the preatmospheric orbit of the meteorite was determined. The meteorite was on a Earth-crossing orbit around the Sun with its furthest point in the inner main asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter, and its closest point to the Sun between the orbits of Venus and Earth. Chelyabinsk is classified as a shocked ordinary chondrite (type LL5). The meteorite exploded in the atmosphere into many hundred pieces which were recovered quickly from deep snow.

The Chelyabinsk meteorites will be on public display at the Field Museum starting Wednesday afternoon, April 9, 2013.

The donation was extensively covered by the media, see for example: ABC 7 News, DNAinfo, Chicago SunTimes, Seattle Post Intelligencer, RIA Novosti. Our exhibits department also produced a clip about the donation.