Giant fireball in the sky was the first indication that an unknown celestial object had exploded over Siberia. In this artist's conception, Semen Semenov, who witnessed the blast at a distant trading post, starts to feel the heat. Image: James Porto
- Exactly 100 years ago a comet or an asteroid exploded a few kilometers above the Tunguska region of central Siberia, leaving a huge zone of destruction.
- Despite many searches, no one has found any remnant of the impact body. Such evidence could help scientists gauge the danger posed today by medium-size comets or asteroids.
- A team of Italian scientists has found evidence of a possible impact crater about 10 kilometers from ground zero. They will soon return to recover what may be a fragment of the cosmic object.
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Editor's Note: This story was originally printed in the June 2008 issue of Scientific American.
June 30, 1908, 7:14 a.m., central Siberia—Semen Semenov, a local farmer, saw “the sky split in two. Fire appeared high and wide over the forest.... From ... where the fire was, came strong heat.... Then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few yards.... After that such noise came, as if . . . cannons were firing, the earth shook ...”