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Field Museum receives pieces of Russian meteorite

CHICAGO – Dozens of small pieces of a meteorite that exploded earlier this year over Russia were donated to the Field Museum on Tuesday, giving scientists the opportunity to study the rare rock.

“The interesting thing about this one, it affected the daily lives not only of scientists but of everyone who was in that area,” Field Museum meteorite and terrestrial rock curator Philipp Heck said. “This is very rare that a meteorite actually injures people. It also made people realize how vulnerable we are on this planet.”

The meteor injured nearly 1,500 people and caused widespread property damage over Russia’s Chelyabinsk district Feb. 15. The meteorite is known as the Chelyabinsk Meteorite.

The Chicago museum received about 2 pounds of meteorite pieces, some as small as pebbles, from collector Terry Boudreaux of Lake Forest. Boudreaux worked with meteorite hunters in Russia to obtain the pieces. The museum holds more than 6,500 meteorites.

Heck said he hopes to study how long it took the meteorite to separate from its parent body and land on Earth.

“It could have taken several millions of years,” Heck said.

Scientists at the museum will split some of the pieces apart to see the inside, Heck said, “to see what they can they tell us about the history of the solar system.”

Other pieces will go on exhibit for the public to view starting today.

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