Russian scientists have found fragments of the meteorite which struck the Urals region on Friday.
The space rock, estimated to measure 17 metres across, exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, releasing 20 times more energy than the U.S. nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Its shockwaves injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes.
Geologists from the Urals Federal University (UFU) discovered tiny fragments of the meteorite on the ice of Chebarkul Lake near a six-metre hole presumably made by the meteorite, Russian media reported on Monday.
Chemical tests conducted on 53 collected fragments — ranging in size from a few millimetres to one centimetre — confirmed their extra-terrestrial origin, said Dr. Viktor Grokhovsky of UFU, who is also a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ committee on meteorites.
“This meteorite is a common chondrite, a stony meteorite which contains some 10 per cent of iron,” the scientist told reporters. He said the meteorite is likely to be named after Chebarkul Lake, situated 80 km from Chelyabinsk.
Divers who searched the bottom of Chebarkul Lake on Saturday failed to find any trace of the meteorite, which was not surprising considering that the lake bed was covered by thick layers of silt and the visibility was zero. Search teams identified three other sites in the Urals where meteorite ragments are thought to have hit the ground.
Meanwhile, residents of Chelyabinsk are recovering from the shock of a close brush with what scientists said could be the largest celestial body to have hit the Earth in a hundred years.
About 24,000 emergency workers and volunteers are busy replacing smashed windows in nearly 5,000 apartment houses and public buildings.
Some people shaken by the blinding flash and booming shockwaves from the meteor need the help of psychologists.
Residents of Chelyabinsk said that the sun was unusually bright and strong three days after the meteor streaked through the sky.
“After a few hours in the open I felt like skiing in the mountains,” Fyodor Spiridonov was quoted as saying.
Animals at the local zoo grew agitated hours before the meteor flew over the city, zoo caterers told the MK daily. Brown bears at the zoo woke from winter hibernation and wolves in the woods surrounding the city kept howling through the night after the incident.