In 2013, an asteroid with a height of 18 meters and a weight of 11 thousand tons entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of up to 67 thousand kilometers per hour. Fortunately it did not touch the surface, but it exploded 23 kilometers above the ground, plunging the area with massive dust of meteorite debris, in particular the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia.
This is the largest explosion on Earth since Tunguska in 1908. According to NASA, it is 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima.
The footage shows a flash of light brighter than the sun, followed by a loud noise that shattered glass, damaged buildings and injured an estimated 1,200 people in the city below.
Much of the dust from this event became contaminated when it entered the environment, but remained a plume in the atmosphere for more than 4 days. Fortunately, layers of snow that fell before and shortly after the event trapped and stored some of the dust samples so scientists could recover them soon after.
This allowed us to discover crystals completely new to us. They came in two distinct forms; Hexagonal shells and rails approx. The team suspects that the crystals formed under the high temperature and high pressure conditions caused by the meteorite rupture, although the exact mechanism is not yet clear. In the future, scientists hope to track down more samples of meteorite dust from other space rocks to see if these crystals are a common byproduct of meteorite breakouts or are unique to the Chelyabinsk meteorite explosion.
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