Saturday, April 1, 2017

Locals Join Search for Possible Meteor Crash Site in Siberia

Credit: Yuri Smityuk/TASS

Planetarium scientists from the Russian city of Irkutsk (Siberia) have collected the testimonies of more than 20 residents of the Lake Baikal area and the Republic of Buryatia who witnessed the fall of a celestial body glowing bright green during the afternoon of March 23, Executive Director of the Irkutsk Planetarium Pavel Nikiforov told reporters on Friday. According to him, scientists plan to use the testimonies in order to calculate the size of the celestial body and figure out where it could have crashed.

"Within a week, the testimonies of 20 witnesses were collected. The meteor was seen not only in Irkutsk but also in the Turuntayevo settlement in the Republic of Buryatia, in Usolye-Sibirskoye and the Sorty village in the Zalarinsky District. There are also two recordings made by car DVRs. The actual size of the celestial body, its speed and trajectory can be calculated based on these recordings," said Nikoforov who witnessed the meteor fall himself.

According to him, scientists can already say that upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the meteor weighted several tonnes. However, it is "still an open question" if it reached the Earth’s surface or burned up in the atmosphere, Nikoforov said.

On March 28, the Irkutsk planetarium staff recorded a similar phenomenon, only at night. "At 1:30 local time (17:30 GMT), near the Glubokaya settlement, where outer space objects are usually observed from, we saw a meteor that had gone out in a flash before reaching the horizon," Nikoforov went on to say. The planetarium staff collected testimonies of two more people who witnessed the phenomenon in Irkutsk and near the township of Babushkin (the Republic of Buryatia). A telescope installed at a Buryatia facility of the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences also recorded the meteor.

Although the second celestial body was seen only days after the first one, I wouldn’t connect them to one another, Nikoforov said. "They entered the Earth’s atmosphere from various parts of the celestial sphere. Both were glowing with a bright green light. The light color depends on their composition and in this case may point to their common origin," he added.

The Irkutsk Planetarium will hand all information about the meteors over to the International Meteor Organization and the Meteorite Committee of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


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