A race for cosmic souvenirs has begun after scientists said there were still many pieces of the meteorite that fell to earth near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk last week waiting to be found.
The extraterrestrial origin of 53 rock fragments collected on the frozen surface of Lake Chebarkul was confirmed during analysis conducted by the Urals Federal University in the early hours of Monday.
But this is just the start of the process of gathering the debris left by the large meteorite, which exploded on entering the earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground in a series of fireballs on Friday.
Viktor Grokhovsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Science’s meteorite committee, has been put in charge of the scientific search operation. "There are a lot more fragments to be discovered in many other places … it’s only a matter of time," he said.
The search is being concentrated at the moment around a six-metre wide hole in Lake Chebarkul, about 50 miles from Chelyabinsk, discovered by locals shortly after the meteorite hit the ground.
Military divers spent much of the weekend scouring the bottom of the lake, but were hampered by poor visibility and found nothing.
Despite the failure of the divers, there was still likely to be a piece of meteorite in the lake of at least 50cm in diameter, said Grokhovsky.
Local officials said on Sunday that the formal search was being abandoned, but scientists will continue the hunt. No one from the eight-strong scientific team has yet been able to examine the whole surface of the lake because of a cordon put in place by the authorities over the weekend.
Analysis of the pieces recovered so far, none of which had a diameter greater than 1cm, suggests that 10% of the meteorite was made up of iron. Traces of sulphite and the mineral olivine were also present.
"It was a stone meteorite that belongs to a class of ordinary chondrite meteorites," said Grokhovsky.
Likely to be named Chebarkul after the lake where the first fragments were found, the meteorite is the biggest such object to hit the earth in more than 100 years.
Within the academic community there appeared to be a difference of opinion on Monday as to the exact nature of the object, when some experts said it was conceivable that it was a comet that had struck southern Russia at 9.20am on Friday.
"In Chelyabinsk we saw a type of comet in which there was almost no meteorite remaining," said Alexander Bagrov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy Institute, Interfax reported.
"It was mainly made up of a mass of ice, of which no trace is left."
The argument reflects the same debate that raged after the last big meteorite impact, the so-called Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908. For decades afterwards Russian scientists, trying to explain the absence of an obvious impact crater, argued over whether the blast was caused by a meteorite or a small comet.
Pro-Israel bias: BBC admits editorial breach in interview with Israeli defense chief 2015-05-23 7:58
The BBC has reached a â€śprovisional findingâ€ť to uphold complaints made by Palestinian activists that the broadcaster breached its editorial guidelines in a â€śsoftâ€ť interview with the Israeli defense minister.
Complaints focused on BBC journalist Sarah Montagueâ€™s alleged failure to challenge controversial claims made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaâ€™alon.
Journalist Amena Saleem, who works with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), wrote ...
41% of Americans Support Criminalizing "Hate Speech" 2015-05-23 7:31 The following are from a recent poll about what some are calling on for "hate speech"
1. Support for Hate Crimes Legislation
Do you support or oppose the federal law that requires increased penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person?
2. Support for Expanding Hate Crimes
FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers 2015-05-23 7:36
FBI agents canâ€™t point to any major terrorism cases theyâ€™ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Departmentâ€™s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk ...
Sweetener Stevia Was Once Hailed As An Anti-Fertility Agent for Population Reduction 2015-05-23 7:13
Maybe it's not so sweet now... If you've thought stevia, the natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweetners with aspartame, et al., is too good to be true, there may be a catch. Check out this textbook written in 1970 by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the precursor to the textbook Ecoscience they wrote with Obama Science Czar John P. Holdren ...
TPP Aproved: Senate Republicans Give Obama New Powers - Details Remain 'Classified' 2015-05-23 6:43
President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senateâ€™s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations.
A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight ...