Dome Over Russian Meteorite Mysteriously Rises Dec 18, 2019 18:21:19 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Dec 18, 2019 18:21:19 GMT -5
Dome Over Russian Meteorite Mysteriously Rises
Curators at the State History Museum of the Southern Urals in Chelyabinsk, a city in west-central Russia, are puzzled over the sudden lifting of the display dome protecting a huge fragment of the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite. The lid mysteriously rose as visitors gazed at the space rock which crashed to Earth on February 15, 2013. Staff insist they did nothing to cause the dome to lift, setting off an alarm, and someone quipped the meteorite might be trying to “escape.”
“We laughingly said that the brother of the Chelyabinsk meteorite ... said ‘Hi’ to our space rock, and ours breathed out in response,” Ayvar Valeev, head of public relations, reported. “Jokes aside, our female keepers are still a bit shaken,” he added.
But there are those who fear the eerie lifting could have been a hi-tech attempt to steal the meteorite or test security. “Usually it’s quite a saga to raise the meteorite’s dome,” Valeev explained. “There were four electric motors at its edges. The whole structure is heavy. There is an alarm system in place, plus all sort of red tape linked to raising it. It never happened before that the dome just rose like this by itself.”
Security staff rushed to the scene and closed the dome after hearing the alarm, but could not explain what happened. “We have not managed to establish the reason of the dome’s sudden rise,” admitted museum director Vladimir Bogdanovsky. “We spoke to all our specialists in electronics and wiring, who said unanimously that it was impossible to have it opening by itself. Yet it happened. Right after it happened I queried what could it possibly be, and there is no answer so far.”
Ruslan Safin, another museum insider, denied the lid could be lifted by a potential thief using a remote control, adding the equipment had been checked and was in normal working order. “Only staff have access to the remote control and none of our employees pushed the button,” he insisted. “Luckily, nothing bad happened. The exhibit is in one piece, there was no panic, no one got injured. So we are working as normal. We will try to establish the reason.”
Staff members have signed an official document confirming it was a “self-rising” incident.
This 1,100-pound meteorite is but a small chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteor that landed in Lake Chebarkul, damaging 7,200 buildings, collapsing the roof of a factory and shattering numerous windows. The majority of the 1,500 injuries resulted from shattered glass. Additionally, hundreds of others who weren’t physically injured, required psychological counseling.
It wasn’t until later that locals understood how fortunate they were that the huge space rock crashed into a lake. Had it struck the city, the population of which is approximately 1.2 million, a massive death toll would have been the likely result.
Sources: Sophie Bateman, The Daily Star, December 17, 2019; Brendan Cole, Newsweek, December 18, 2019; and Elizabeth Howell, Space.com, January 9, 2019.