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Along the winding Songhua River, Jilin is a spectacular city in northeastern China’s province of the same name. Along with its natural beauty highlighted by the river and mountains, the city is also a world-class tourism destination due to an unexpected meteorite shower in 1976. Located on the southern bank of the Songhua River near Jilin Bridge, Jilin Meteorite Museum is China’s first museum featuring the extraterrestrial rocks. Its most famous exhibit, Jilin No. 1, the largest intact meteorite on earth, accompanies many other meteorite specimens from around the world.
Largest Intact Meteorite in the World
On March 8, 1976, a heavy stream of meteorites began showering the northern suburbs of Jilin at about 3:00 p.m. With an ear-splitting roar, one massive meteorite dissolved into numerous pieces of various sizes when it was still 19 kilometers high in the air. Fortunately, no damage or injuries occurred within its landing area of about 500 square kilometers. Its 138 surviving specimens and more than 3,000 fragments weighing a total of 2,616 kilograms make the Jilin meteorite shower the planet’s largest such occurrence. Of all the meteorites, Jilin No. 1, a massive rock weighing 1,770 kilograms, is believed to be the largest single fragment of meteorite ever found on Earth.
According to records, a crater measuring two meters in diameter and three meters deep was left by the meteorite’s impact, which broke the frozen soil layer as deep as 6.5 meters. Equivalent to a 1.7 magnitude earthquake, the impact was so powerful that a mushroom cloud appeared and sprayed dirt up to 150 meters away. Further scientific analysis revealed that the original meteorite was a 4.6 billion-year-old asteroid originating from the belt between Jupiter and Mars.
Along with Jilin No. 1, two other large meteorites were named Jilin No. 2 and Jilin No.3 respectively. Visitors to Jilin Meteorite Museum are allowed to touch and feel 126-kilogram Jilin No. 2.