13 April 2013

Post-Meteorite Recovery

The whole world was amazed a few months ago when a meteorite crashed through the earth's atmosphere and crash landed in an until then little heard of part of Russia. The incredible images were shown all over the world, and while nobody was killed, a lot of people suffered injuries and a lot of damage was done by our unexpected visitor. In the aftermath of the shock, the town closest to the point where the meteorite hit, Chelyabinsk, is now looking to take advantage of their new found fame.

What is a meteorite?

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts that have come to light since more has been known about the meteorite is that no sizeable meteorite fragments have been found on the ground. Scientists say that this is probably because the meteorite was mostly formed of ice, rather than stone or iron. Vladislav Leonov of the Institute of Astronomy, told reporters: "It was a bolide – a flash left by a meteor as it enters the atmosphere. This time, it must have been a comet nucleus, for it’s comets that leave no traces, only impact damage. These kinds of comet nuclei consist of volatile compounds and dust particles which fully evaporate as a result of a space-velocity strike and an explosion."

"Meteorite business"

So while the meteorite has not left any real souvenirs for the locals of Chelyabinsk to collect and take advantage of, there has been some scattering of debris recovered around a frozen lake in the area. Lake Chebarkul became famous around the world as images of the hole left by impact from the meteorite were beamed around the world. The gaping hole left in the frozen ice by the meteorite’s impact is the site where most of the gravel like fragments of the meteor have been recovered and it is here where the locals are really trying to build on what has happened to them.

Space sent us a gift and we need to make use of it,” Natalia Gritsay, a regional tourism official, told Bloomberg. “We need our own Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty.”

Emergency preparations for tourism

An emergency meeting was called of the town's leaders and plans are now in place for the site to be  developed for tourism, with claims that two groups of Japanese visitors have already made bookings.

Apart from tours of the crash site, the locals are also looking to see if they can create other meteor themed attractions, including a theme park and an annual festival to mark the day on which the meteorite blasted into the local people's lives.

The local mayor, Andrei Orlov, proposed that once the lake has defrosted that the town offer diving trips for tourists who are intent on retrieving some part of the meteorite. The local museum has also got in on the act quickly with the main exhibition now being devoted to the meteorite and the ensuing world coverage that this rather isolated part of the world received.

It has been reported that many of the area's more than one million inhabitants believed a plane was crashing when the meteor made its appearance. The reality was much more unusual and, if the locals persist with their enthusiastic plans, it could well mean that in the future nobody will be able to forget just where in the world such an impressive extra-terrestrial object decided to pay us all a visit one quiet February afternoon in 2013.

Featured images:
License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned 

About Today's Guest Writer:

Alisha Webb is a British writer working out of Barcelona. She is a keen traveller and a fan of Baltic travel company.

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