14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2019 – The meteorite that plunged over the Valley of Viñales, in Pinar del Río, may shed light on the origin of the universe, Cuban experts told the state press.
Astrophysicist Oscar Álvarez said that so far not enough carbon has been found in the fragments of the meteorite, which is necessary in order for further study on the origin of life on earth. However, being a chondrite rock, it will help to expand the knowledge about the origin of the Solar System.
Efrén Jaimez Salgado, head of the Department of Environmental Geology of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment of the Island added that so far between 40 and 50 pieces of the meteorite were found scattered in the areas of Dos Hermanas, El Palmarito, Los Jazmines, El Cuajaní and in the vicinity of the town of Viñales.
The researchers believe that the meteorite could have weighed about three tons but when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere it disintegrated into dozens of fragments. According to preliminary investigations, experts have found metallic crystals on the rock, presumably of iron and nickel.
The meteorite that fell in Viñales released some 1,400 tons of TNT of energy when it entered Earth’s atmosphere, according to estimates published by NASA and corroborated by Cuban experts. The celestial body was seen from Key West, where a radar detected the meteorite at an altitude of more than 7,920 meters (26,000 feet) near Viñales at 1:21pm.
When it fell, the meteorite produced an explosion that was felt in a good part of the province of Pinar del Río, alarming the local population, who took to the streets after the loud noise. In the areas closest to the event broken glass was reported, a result of the shock wave and the shingles of a house were damaged. There were no deaths or injuries to lament from the impact.
Even though scientists are asking for caution with the rocks (to avoid contaminating them) some neighbors picked up pieces of the meteorite and, according to reports from the local press, have even “sampled it” to determine its flavor. Such was the case of Rainel Rivero, a Pinar del Rio resident who had hopes of being cured of his “hypertension.”
In 2013, a meteorite fell in Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing a huge explosion that left hundreds injured and damaged buildings and infrastructure.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.