Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chelyabinsk Meteorite Search May Help in Investigating Tunguska Event

Lake Chebarkul area where fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite have been recovered. February 2013 © Chelyabinsk Region emergencies service/TASS

Information and experience, obtained during the recent search of the meteorite that exploded above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, may help scientists in solving the mystery of the Tunguska Event that happened more than a century ago, meteorite researcher Sergei Kolisnichenko said on Tuesday.

The broad consensus remains that a powerful explosion in a remote Siberian forest near the Podkamennaya Tunguska river in 1908 was caused by a large cosmic body, like an asteroid or a comet. However, no impact crater or any meteoric remnants were ever found, and the exact cause of the Tunguska Event still remains unclear.

"The Chelyabinsk meteorite event has given us vast experience. <...> The explosion took place at one location, windows were shattered at another, and the meteorite itself wad found 80 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. This factor of inertia, about which many researchers appear to have forgotten, can obviously be extrapolated to the Tunguska event: the search should be conducted not at the epicenter of the blast, but some 80-100 km further down the projected flight path. If researchers follow the pattern of the [Chelyabinsk] search, they may be able to eventually find [the Tunguska meteorite]," Kolisnichenko said.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite entered the Earth’s atmosphere on February 15, 2013 at about 07:10 Moscow time, causing a powerful explosion in the atmosphere at an altitude of 23 kilometers. The blast was observed by hundreds of thousands of people in the Urals and north Kazakhstan. It smashed windows in several hundred thousand residential buildings in Chelyabinsk and its outskirts.

Large fragments of the celestial body were later recovered from the shores and bottom of Lake Chebarkul, 78 kilometers west of Chelyabinsk.

Credit: TASS

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