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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

1908 meteor found?

We may have an answer to the mystery object that hit Tunguska, Siberia in 1908!

In late June of 1908, a fireball exploded above the remote Russian forests of Tunguska, Siberia, flattening more than 800 square miles of trees. Researchers think a meteor was responsible for the devastation, but neither its fragments nor any impact craters have been discovered.

Astronomers have been left to guess whether the object was an asteroid or a comet, and figuring out what it was would allow better modeling of potential future calamities.

Italian researchers now think they've found a smoking gun: The 164-foot-deep Lake Cheko, located just 5 miles northwest of the epicenter of destruction.

"When we looked at the bottom of the lake, we measured seismic waves reflecting off of something," said Giuseppe Longo, a physicist at the University of Bologna in Italy and co-author of the study. "Nobody has found this before. We can only explain that and the shape of the lake as a low-velocity impact crater."


This is one of those fascinating mysteries that I'd love to know the answer to.

And if another large meteor hit? It could send enough particulate matter into the air to drop global temperatures. Kept suspended in the air too long, it could cause an ice age! (That was the back story of an old computer game called Midwinter. A comet strike also featured into the background of S.M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers.)

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