Lot 31. CHELYABINSK METEORITE END PIECE — FROM A FIREBALL THAT RESULTED IN MORE THAN 1100 INJURIES

Sold: $ 9 375
Auction date: 23.02.2021   10:00 UTC -05:00
Archive
ID 491241
Lot 31 | CHELYABINSK METEORITE END PIECE — FROM A FIREBALL THAT RESULTED IN MORE THAN 1100 INJURIES
Traveling at a speed of 66,000 kilometers per hour, a giant fireball entered Earth's atmosphere over Kazakhstan on February 15, 2013. At an altitude of 45 kilometers, atmospheric friction resulted in the largest portion — a 12,000-ton, 19-meter rock — to start breaking up. As fragmentation increased so did the amount of atmospheric drag, and when the object could not withstand the pressure, it exploded in a massive air burst 30 kilometers over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The total kinetic energy released was equivalent to 500 kilotons of TNT —approximately 25 times more energy than released by the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Fortunately, most of this energy was dispersed and absorbed by the surrounding atmosphere. Ninety seconds later the shockwave reached the ground: people were knocked off their feet, 7,200 buildings in six cities were damaged and 100,000 homeowners had to replace broken windows. Worse still, more than 1100 people were injured, most from shattered glass and some from ultraviolet burns and temporary flash blindness. The Chelyabinsk shockwave left a trail damage nearly 200 kilometers wide — and it could have been far worse: had the meteoroid exploded at a lower altitude, its explosive force would have been more focused and concentrated and the result would have been horrific. Chelyabinsk is the only meteorite documented to have resulted in a large number of injuries. It's also the only meteorite whose final moments were extensively documented on video: hundreds of security cameras and dash-cams recorded Chelyabinsk's descent, as well as video of exploding windows and collapsing walls. While most of the Chelyabinsk mass disintegrated in the atmosphere, thousands of small meteorites landed on Earth—and this is among the finest.

Veins of impact melt snake through the cut and polished matrix accented with metallic flakes. This end piece looks as if it has crashed eventfully to Earth: the reverse reveals a highly marked outer surface with fusion crust. A stark reminder that this meteorite exploded above a populated city.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.


95 x 30 x 62 mm (3.75 x 1.25 x 2.5 in.) and 141.6g

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Preview 09.02.2021 - 23.02.2021
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