Small Threats

…are sometimes worse.

A surprising report from

The infamous Tunguska explosion, which mysteriously leveled an area of Siberian forest nearly the size of Tokyo a century ago, might have been caused by an impacting asteroid far smaller than previously thought.

The fact that a relatively small asteroid could still cause such a massive explosion suggests “we should be making more efforts at detecting the smaller ones than we have till now,” said researcher Mark Boslough, a physicist at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.

The actual amount of destruction that occurred in 1908 because of the Tunguska event was constrained to “trees and caribou”, it is said. Because of the luck of timing, no villages or cities were lost. Even then, the trees felled in the explosion were apparently not completely healthy, and many more were blown over than the event would have dictated otherwise. It has misled researchers for a century to think the asteroid was larger than it was.

But the dark cloud in front of this rainbow is that the object that caused the destruction was much smaller than previously thought. And it would have been that much more difficult to spot in advance.

Could we spot something similar today, far enough in advance to make a difference? Very unlikely. I doubt we could spot it at all a day before the strike, even with luck.

Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy, Space

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