The mid-air explosion of a meteor over Russia that showered debris onto the city of Yekaterinburg, shattering windows and injuring more than 1,000 people, echoes another extraterrestrial encounter that occurred more than a century ago known as the Tunguska Event.
On June 30, 1908, an explosion occurred over a remote region of Siberia near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in the present-day region of Krasnoyarsk Krai.
Most scientists at the time concluded that the blast came from a meteor or part of a comet, though no fragments from an extraterrestrial object were ever found, fueling a number of unsubstantiated theories on what caused it.
It was not until 1927, however, that the first scientific expedition to "ground zero" was made due to the inaccessibility of the region and political upheaval in Russia at the time.
While there was no observable impact of a solid object at the epicenter of the explosion, a vast area of pine forest was found scorched and flattened, save for a few trees that remained upright at the very center.
Later expeditions determined the blast area to resemble something like a butterfly or a misshapen trapezoid, 43.5 miles across at its widest point and 34 miles long.
According to a report from NASA Science, the Tunguska blast destroyed 800 square miles of remote forestlands, damaged 80 million trees and caused seismic waves that could be felt as far away as England.
Interestingly, while hundreds of reindeer were believed to be killed, there were no reports of any human deaths.
Still, the lack of physical evidence of a meteor have led many people over the years to believe the blast was caused by something else.
Some theories posit that a UFO crash-landed then vaporized, while others claim the Earth encountered a small black hole.
With this latest near-impact of a meteor, the evidence supporting the meteor theory behind the Tunguska Event seems more likely given their similarities, though the hypothetical Tunguska meteor would have either been much larger or exploded much closer to the surface than the one that shook Yekaterinburg, considering the relatively minimal amount of damage.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....