Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn June 30, 1908, a meteor exploded near the remote Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia. As of 2014, the Tunguska Event is the largest “impact event” in recorded history.Astronomers and meteorologists have studied the Tunguska Event using mathematical models, expeditions to Siberia, eyewitness accounts, and sediment cores from peat bogs in the Tunguska region. Using these resources, scientists have a pretty good idea about what happened during the Tunguska Event.A 100-million kilogram (220 million-pound) space rock crashed through Earth’s atmosphere at about 54,000 kilometers per hour (33,500 miles per hour). As it sped through the atmosphere, the rock heated to a scorching 25,000 degrees Celsius (44,500 degrees Fahrenheit). About 6-10 kilometers (4-6 miles) above the Tunguska region, the rock exploded. The enormous explosion immediately felled 80 million trees, and caused a shock wave that shook houses 65 kilometers (40 miles) away.So, although the Tunguska Event is usually classified as an “impact,” the meteor actually exploded before it ever hit the ground.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry astronomer Noun
person who studies space and the universe beyond Earth's atmosphere.
layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.
Encyclopedic Entry: atmosphere bog Noun
wetland of soft ground mostly made of partially decayed plant matter called peat.
Encyclopedic Entry: bog damage Noun
harm that reduces usefulness or value.
journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.
violent outburst; rejection, usually of gases or fuel
ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.
rocky debris from space that enters Earth's atmosphere. Also called a shooting star or falling star.
Encyclopedic Entry: meteor meteorologist Noun
person who studies patterns and changes in Earth's atmosphere.
model, computational Noun
a mathematical model that requires extensive computational resources to study the behavior of a complex system by computer simulation.
layers of partially decayed organic material found in some wetlands. Peat can be dried and burned as fuel.
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region remote Adjective
distant or far away.
sediment core Noun
cylinder of accumulated sediment of a region, visible as layers.
shock wave Noun
moving, measurable change in pressure and density of a material.