MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) – The largest surviving fragment of a meteor that entered Earth’s atmosphere in a fiery blaze over Russia last year will quickly deteriorate unless it is properly preserved, a scientist warned Tuesday.
The meteorite chunk was recovered from a lake in October near the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, which it impacted last February. Local residents reported feeling intense heat from the dramatic fireball, which injured over 1,500 people, mostly due to glass shattered by its shockwave.
The fragment, weighing 540 kilograms, now sits on display at a regional museum in the city.
But Victor Grokhovsky, an assistant professor at the Urals Federal University, said a museum is not a suitable holding place for a meteorite.
“To prevent its deterioration, it should be placed under glass with a moisture-absorbing substance or varnished. Otherwise it will not stay long in its present form,” he said.
The Chelyabinsk meteorite, which released several times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is composed mostly of stone with some iron content.
The deputy science director of the museum in which it is being kept said earlier this month that around 20 liters of water had evaporated from the fragment, which now appears rust-colored. He said that the discoloration has caused some visitors to doubt the meteorite’s authenticity.
It isn’t only scientists that are worried about the meteorite.
The founder of a religious movement that idolizes the meteorite said in September that only the “psychic priests” of his church were qualified to handle it and warned that any mistreatment of the object could lead to disastrous results for mankind.