Nature magazine honors Urals meteorite hunter

Viktor Grokhovskiy  led an exhibition to collect more than 700 fragments of Chelyabinsk meteorite. Source: RG

Viktor Grokhovskiy led an exhibition to collect more than 700 fragments of Chelyabinsk meteorite. Source: RG

Russian scientist Viktor Grokhovskiy named Nature magazine’s Top 10 people of the year report for his research on the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

A British science journal has named Russian scientist Viktor Grokhovskiy as one of 10 people who made a difference in the world of science in 2013. Nature magazine listed Grokhovskiy in its annual “Nature’s 10” for his research on meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk on February 15.

Grokhovskiy, a professor at the Urals Federal University and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Committee for Meteorites, said the recognition came as a welcomed surprise.

In 2013 Nanotech received an avalanche of applications from scientists all over the world to study the meteorite. Many of them are now waiting for postgraduate courses in ‘Cosmic Chemistry and Planetology’ and ‘Astrobiology’ to begin’.

“It’s like a Nobel Prize for us, although you don’t actually win a prize. But it is very nice; we are very happy,” he said. “At the end of the day though it is not only me who deserves the credit, a great number of people, my colleagues, contributed to these achievements.”

Grokhovskiy said he received hints that something was going on about two weeks ago, when he began to receive phone calls from the journal asking for a photo but without giving a reason, he said.

The meteorite, which came down in the Chelyabinsk region, approached the planet from a direction that is invisible to telescopes on Earth and took astronomers by surprise. Two days later, Grokhovskiy had efficiently calculated the trajectory of the meteorite and where the fragments would have landed. He then led an exhibition to collect more than 700 fragments of this celestial body.

Students, postgraduate students and lecturers from the ‘Nanotech’ Nauchno-Issledovatelskiy Tsentr (Scientific Research Centre) had already discovered the first fragments by February 17.

Scientists installed a web camera overnight and showed the whole world debris from the meteorite on February 18. It was then that they established the type of matter and calculated the final trajectory of this “guest from outer space” to define where the main part would have come down.

On the basis of these calculations Grokhovskiy’s expedition led scientists to Lake Chebarukl, from where smaller fragments weighing 5.5 kilograms as well as a large fragment weighing 570 kilograms were removed. When the biggest fragment was raised from the bottom of the lake on October 17, Viktor Grokhovskiy said he was still unable to get over the size.

“Less matter was brought back from the Moon than we discovered in one lake!” he said.

Studies into this alien from outer space are still ongoing.

“We are now checking to see if any of our hypothesis can be confirmed. I cannot say which hypothesis as it’s an academic secret. If I were to tell you now, other scientists could take up the theses, competition in the scientific world is very fierce,” Grokhovskiy said.

Based on materials from Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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