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Strange 'snow carrots' found at meteorite impact site

Photo courtesy: Cyril Lorenz

Photo courtesy: Cyril Lorenz

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 5:23 PM - Russia was thrust into the world spotlight in February 2013, when the Chelyabinsk meteorite streaked across the sky in the west. It created a massive sonic boom that shattered windows, sending 122 people to the hospital.

Most of the meteorite exploded in the atmosphere but some small fragments made it to the ground.

Now, two years later, researchers are reporting that some of the impacts created strange 'carrots' in the snow when they fell.

The announcement was made earlier this week at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

Scientists recreated the impact conditions with computer models to learn more about the phenomenon. While they initially thought the shapes formed as a result of hot fragments that melted surrounding snow on impact, the computer revealed the fragments would have had more than enough time to cool before reaching the ground.

When the meteorite hit the ground it created a crater. The snow beneath that crater was compressed, causing it to increase in density.

The dense snow helped slow the fragment while pushing the snow upward, causing a narrow funnel to form.

Researchers say the findings could have applications for planetary science as similar, carrot-like objects made out of space dust were observed during NASA's Stardust space experiment.

The video below are dashcam captures of the famous February 2013 meteorite to crash down in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Watch:

Source: Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

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