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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Cash plea for space impact study
Asteroid impact: BBC

Scientists investigating what is believed to be a "significant" fresh meteoroid impact crater in a remote part of Siberia are begging for funds to mount an expedition.

A British meteorite expert has called on the international community to help Russian researchers get to the impact site, which may be of major scientific importance.


It is imperative that US and UK funding bodies to support our Russian colleagues in their investigation of the Siberian impact

Benny Peiser, John Moores University, Liverpool
Hunters in the region say they have seen a large crater surrounded by burned forest.

Vladimir Polyakov, of the Institute of Solar and Terrestrial Physics in Moscow, said: Specialists have no doubt that it is a meteorite that fell into the taiga on Thursday."

Middle-power Earthquake

Polyakov says there were more than 100 eyewitnesses to the event.

He added that scientists believed them. He said instruments rarely recorded the impacts of meteoroids and so eyewitnesses were practically the only source of information for such events.

Kirill Levi, vice-director of the Earth Crust Institute in Siberia, said: "The seismic monitoring station located near the event site recorded the moment of impact recording seismic waves comparable to a middle-power earthquake."

Vladimir Polyakov added that it was impossible to send a state-funded expedition to the site, which lies in Bodaibo district, Irkutsk region, without approval from the Meteorite Studies Center in Moscow.

Bodaibo residents say they witnessed the fall of a very large, luminous body, which looked like a huge boulder.

No funds

Scientists in Irkutsk have sent a report to Moscow along with a request for funds to mount an expedition but have had no reply.

Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University, UK, said: "We appear to be dealing with a significant impact event."

He told BBC News Online: "It is imperative that US and UK funding bodies support our Russian colleagues in their investigation of the Siberian impact.

"The resources required for sending a scientific expedition to the epicentre of the event would be very moderate but could yield vital information about the impact threat that concerns every citizen of the world."

See also:

11 Dec 98 | Science/Nature
17 Dec 97 | Science/Nature
31 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
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