MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History has obtained 234 pieces of the meteorite that slammed into Russia’s Urals region in February from a donation by meteorite collector Terry Boudreaux, the museum has said on its website.
More than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of space stones are on public display at the Field Museum starting from Wednesday afternoon. The fragments will join the museum’s collection of more than 6,500 pieces of meteorites.
Boudreaux, one of the world's greatest meteorite collectors, sent a team to Russia the day after the huge meteorite hit the Urals city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, in order to buy parts of it.
The meteorite entered the atmosphere undetected by existing space-monitoring systems and fragmented into many hundred pieces which were recovered quickly from deep snow.
"The local villagers actually went out in three feet of snow on their snow skis and looked for holes in the snow. They would dig down with plastic shovels and find these little pieces and throw them in their pockets," abclocal.go.com quoted Boudreaux as saying.
Field Museum scientist and assistant curator of meteorite studies Philipp Heck said: "I expected we would get a piece like this. But we got more than a kilogram of pieces there laid out on the table there."
The Chelyabinsk meteorite caused a massive sonic boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city, injuring 1,500 people in the area.
NASA estimates the meteorite was roughly 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter when it struck Earth's atmosphere, travelling faster than the speed of sound, and exploded in a fireball brighter than the morning sun.
“This event was probably a once in a 100 year event and made people realize how vulnerable we are to meteorite impacts,” the museum said on its website.