The 1908 Tunguska Asteroid Impact Event, near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Tunguska, has been reconstructed several times over the years with no actual proven impact crater ever to be found – confusion reigning whether or not it was even a comet or asteroid that came down. Yet today, the astronomy field has finally attributed it to the “detonation of ice material from a comet”. These space rocks have fascinated the human mind for centuries – their power and destruction have brought forth many movies and books which have thrilled the imaginations of so many on this dangerous subject. Recently the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft began using its cameras to track its first target-asteroid, (2687) Steins. With this in mind, we also can look at the 2004 nakhlite meteorite which landed in Antarctica as just another one added to the list of “hits” to Earth. But what makes the Tunguska Event stand out among so many over the years?
A MYSTERIOUS 1908 EVENT:
Tunguska is an area located in the central Siberian area of Russia, now present-day Evenkia, an area which received massive destruction, that is still partially a mystery, at 7:17 a.m. 60 55 North, 101 57 East. The destruction involved approximately 60 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers. Detected on June 30, 1908 were seismic waves and a luminescence night sky over Central Asia and Europe of a gigantic explosion of an unknown cosmic nature, releasing approximately 10 to 15 mega tons of energy, yet no fragments from the body have ever been found. The temperature inside the center was at least tens of thousands of degrees Kelvin.
Scientist theorize that Lake Cheko in the Siberia region may be the location of this early explosion in the air, but it is still unclear. Lake Cheko is located eight miles northwest of what is referred to as the “inferred explosion epicenter”. Still considered debatable, the investigation of the event seems to indicate that Lake Cheko fills an impact crater, or even a secondary impact onto nearby swamp ground. The size and shape of the crater is thought to have been affected by the type of ground present in the area, such as the degassing of a permafrost layer in addition to the melting which is related to the impact.
LOCAL INHABITANTS INVOLVED:
In the area at the time of the explosion were Russian settlers and Tungus natives, located in hills northwest of Lake Baikal, who observed the passage of a brilliant blue bolide traveling through the sky before it hit with a column of dust behind it. Other local inhabitants stated they had noticed a rainbow appearing trail of iridescent bands right behind it. What was lacking, if it were a meteorite that landed, was a smoky trail of large iron meteorites. Yet it was an extremely powerful hit – trees were stripped and felled to a radius of 40 km; huge numbers of reindeer burned to death; and the tents of nearby nomads were thrown into the air.
According to I.M. Suslov’s account in N.V. Vasilyev’s article “The Tunguska Event”, one of the eyewitness to the event was one of the settlement residents nearby, an elderly half-caste shaman man from Evenk who was 40 km south of the epicenter who called the object which landed a “devil”:
“As I came to myself, he told Konenkin, I saw it was all falling around me, burning. You don’t think, Viktor Grigoryevich [V.G.Konenkin], that was god flying, it was really devil flying. I lift up my head – and see – devil’s flying. The devil itself was like a billet, light color, two eyes in front, fire behind. I was frightened, covered myself with some duds, prayed (not to the heathen god, I prayed to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary). After some time of prayer I recovered: everything was clear. I went back to the mouth of the Yakukta where the nomad camp was. It was in the afternoon that I came there…” ( by Academician N.V. Vasilyev; http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/esp_ciencia_tunguska07.htm)
Another eye-witness was S.B. Semenov, located in the village of Vanovara south of the explosion:
“I was sitting in the porch of the house at the trading station of Vanovara at breakfast time … when suddenly in the north … the sky was split in two and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared to be covered with fire. At that moment I felt great heat as if my shirt had caught fire; this heat came from the north side. I wanted to pull off my shirt and throw it away, but at that moment there was a bang in the sky, and a mighty crash was heard. I was thrown to the ground about three sajenes [about 7 meters] away from the porch and for a moment I lost consciousness… The crash was followed by noise like stones falling from the sky, or guns firing. The earth trembled, and when I lay on the ground I covered my head because I was afraid that stones might hit it.” (http://www.psi.edu/projects/siberia/siberia.html)