Space Shuttle and Strange Clouds Key to Mysterious 1908 Explosion

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Ever since something generated a huge explosion over Siberia in 1908, flattening an area as big as a large city, scientists have been trying to figure out what caused it.

Among the enduring mysteries: Following the explosion, the night skies shone brightly for several nights across Europe all the way to London, 3,000 miles away.

While there are some wild theories about the Tunguska event -- involving a UFO or black hole or a bizarre death ray -- astronomers have long known the culprit was either a comet or an asteroid. Based on the lack of a crater, scientists say the object did not smack into the ground, but rather exploded above the surface, the damage being done by the resulting shock wave.

But which type of space rock was it?

New evidence from an unlikely source -- water vapor in the exhaust plumes of space shuttles launched a century later -- points to a comet.

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