Huge lump of Chelyabinsk meteorite found in Lake Chebarkul in Russia
Huge lump of Chelyabinsk meteorite found in Lake Chebarkul in Russia

A huge lump of space rock weighing more than half a tonne has been found after it crashed to Earth in a spectacular explosion earlier this year.

A team of scientists in Russia recovered the 570kg fragment of the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul, in the Urals.

The extraterrestrial object made headlines around the world in February when it exploded in the sky, sending a powerful shockwave three times around the world.

Around 250 people were injured by the explosion above the towns of Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen, which smashed the windows of buildings within the blast zone. A rescue operation involved 20,000 people.

Hailing the discovery, professor Sergey Zamozdra said: "The preliminary examination shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. It's got thick burn-off, the rust is clearly seen and it's got a big number of indents."

Recovering the black rock proved taxing for divers, who worked in zero-visibility conditions under water to bring up the meteor from a deeper-than-expected depth of 13 metres. Pumping mud away from it took 10 days and their work was hampered by storms.

The rock is by far the largest portion of the meteorite yet recovered and was so large it broke into three pieces when scientists tried to weigh it. The heaviest fragment previously found weighed 11kg.

Spectacular video images captured the moment when the Chelyabinsk meteorite entered Earth's atmosphere in a trail of smoke and careered towards the ground.

A poll of Russians found many blamed the event on aliens or an act of God.

Witness Bukreeva Olga told of her experience on Twitter, writing: "My windows were not smashed, but I first thought that my house is being dismantled, then I thought it was a UFO, and my eventual thought was an earthquake."

"This explosion, my ears popped, windows were smashed... phone doesn't work."