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A possible Martian impact could take place next month

Mars may endure an asteroid hit in the near future, scientists from the Near Earth Object Program (NEO) reported last week.  A group of NASA experts released a statement claiming an asteroid 2007 WD5 has a one in 75 chance of a direct hit of the Martian surface next month.  The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's NEO program is responsible for monitoring any and all flying objects that may pose a risk of impacting Earth.

Astronomers closely monitored the asteroid after it was discovered in November by the Catalina Sky Survey, which helps discover near-earth objects (NEOs).  Originally given odds of 1 in 350 of hitting the Red Planet, the odds jumped up after new calculations on Thursday.

Assuming the asteroid does impact the Red Planet scientists would see a great explosion able to reveal soil contents never before seen by researchers.  NASA expects it to hit the surface at 8.4 miles per second, which is the equivalent of a 3 megaton explosion.  This would leave a crater more than a half-mile in diameter.

"We're used to dealing with odds like one-in-a-million," said NEOP astronomer Steve Chesley told the L.A. Times.  "Something with a one-in-a-hundred chance makes us sit up straight in our chairs."

The possible impact would take place on January 30, 2008 at almost 3:00 a.m. PST.  The location on Mars is near the location of the Mars rover Opportunity, one of two crafts examining the Martian surface.

If the asteroid does not impact Mars, NEO warns it would approach Earth "years or decades later," but said there is no risk of it hitting the planet.

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Will it be televised
By christojojo on 12/26/2007 7:37:13 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to watch the impact in as close to real time as possible.

Will NASA or any other organization be at least streaming the impact or were they caught totally off guard?

RE: Will it be televised
By grath on 12/26/2007 8:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
If it does impact Im sure well be pointing every available telescope we have at it. Even if it hits the far side of Mars with respect to Earth so we cant observe the actual impact, the resulting dust cloud it generates would come into view several hours later and be useful to study, and the crater it leaves would certainly be heavily studied by the orbiters. As for a real time broadcast of it, that would likely be done from a ground based telescope because I dont think our space based telescopes are capable of real-time, but a couple days later we would get their data and images.

RE: Will it be televised
By Goty on 12/27/2007 1:08:41 AM , Rating: 2
Well, assuming we're trailing Mars in our orbit right now, the asteroid should hit the side that's facing us.

RE: Will it be televised
By SiliconAddict on 12/26/2007 8:56:46 PM , Rating: 3
Why do I suddenly get this image of Madden and team doing a blow by blow analysis on CBS or whatever channel Sunday night football is on.

RE: Will it be televised
By grath on 12/26/2007 9:14:37 PM , Rating: 5
"and... OH theres Phobos with the sack! Thats his 7th this season..."

Just makes you wonder...
By SkeeterLDR2004 on 12/26/2007 6:57:11 PM , Rating: 5
Of all of the asteroids for which we know trajectories, only a small number pose a minor threat within the century. Given that this one wasn't found until last month, and has such a high probability of impact next month, how many out there do we not know about that may impact Earth in the next few years? It's scary enough to think about 99942 Apophis passing closer to Earth than communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit in 2029, let alone asteroids whose existence isn't yet acknowledged.

RE: Just makes you wonder...
By grath on 12/26/2007 9:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
At least we know about 99942 Apophis. In recent years there have been a couple asteroids that passed closer than the Moons orbit that we couldnt even see until they passed us because they approached from the direction of the Sun. What we really need is a survey telescope around Venus that can see the the PHAs that we cant see from Earth.

RE: Just makes you wonder...
By phaxmohdem on 12/27/2007 12:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if you're that worried about it I will offer you a $100,000,000 asteroid collision insurance policy, payable on impact of any asteroid that kills us all. Only $29.95 a month :)

RE: Just makes you wonder...
By rushfan2006 on 12/27/2007 3:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
Nah...don't worry about 2029, if you believe in Nostradamus, Edgar Cace and say the Mayan Calendar / civilization -- we are doom much sooner than about December 21st, 2012?

Less than 5 years now...

Again, if you believe in that stuff.

RE: Just makes you wonder...
By SkeeterLDR2004 on 12/28/2007 12:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote: about December 21st, 2012?

I thought it was 12/12/12, not 12/21/12... Either way, what's up with the universe and these days of significance? 12/21 is a palindrome, and Friday, April 13, 2029 (Apophis). I'm not really worried, but you have to think that these close NEO approaches would spark space-capable governments world-wide to do what they can to prevent disaster.

it's a great opportunity
By TSS on 12/26/2007 6:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
to find out if there's anything exciting beneath the Martian surface.

although if it reveals Martians, it's a pity for them they didn't have a Bruce Willis.

RE: it's a great opportunity
By SiliconAddict on 12/26/2007 8:58:39 PM , Rating: 5
They don't need Willis....they have death rays.

RE: it's a great opportunity
By Fnoob on 12/31/2007 2:53:02 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it was a plutonium P38 space detonator? Old school Bugs bunny anyone?

Great work, Otto...
By Basilisk on 12/26/2007 10:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
The JPL orbital diagram lists the orbital parameters for this asteroid, and credits production of this data to "Otto Matic". :)

The chance of an impact is pretty slim, but from JPL's orbital diagram any impact is likely to be visible to Earth observatories.

I'm curious how much the asteroid's orbit will be perturbed by a close encounter with Mars' gravity: guess that won't be answered until they have better orbital data.

Nasa is awesome
By AntDX316 on 1/6/2008 2:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
Nasa is awesome cause they land objects and fly satellites around planets exactly where they want them

stale news
By poweruserx83 on 12/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: stale news
By BruceLeet on 12/27/07, Rating: -1
By goku on 12/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: wth
By TennesseeTony on 12/26/2007 10:44:02 PM , Rating: 3
8.4 miles per second, which is in excess of 30,000mph /48,000kph.

RE: wth
By Souka on 12/27/2007 12:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
yeah...was thinking same thing... 30,240 MPH...but "only" 3 megaton...

How big(mass) is this puppy? like a basketball?

I guess E = MV^2

So.............. 3megaton = M*(30,240 MPH)^2
which becomes... 3megaton/(30,240 MPH)^2 = M

But I have no idea how to handle the units correctly to figure out MASS in units I can understand...

RE: wth
By Goty on 12/27/2007 1:22:00 AM , Rating: 2
Well, you've kinda got a bastardization of E = m*c^2 and K = 1/2*m*v^2 going on there (E is mass energy, K is kinetic energy).

So, using the formula for kinetic energy, you have:

3 Megatons = 1/2*m*(8.2 miles/sec)^2

converting to CGS units (because I'm an indoctrinated Astronomer), you have roughly

1.25x10^23 ergs = 1/2*m*1319662.08

(1 Megaton = 4.18x10^22 ergs, 1 erg = 1 g*cm/s)

m = ~1.89x10^17 g or ~4.18x10^14 lbs

So, roughly 2.1 Trillion tons.

RE: wth
By Goty on 12/27/2007 1:23:20 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, bad decimal carrying there, that should eb .21 Trillion tons.

RE: wth
By ThePooBurner on 12/27/2007 1:38:44 AM , Rating: 2
I was going to say. 2.1 trillion sounded like alot for an astroid only 75' across. Someone further down noted that this was on another news site the other day. I read about it then and it gave the size of the roid at ~75'. They expect it to retain a lot of it's size due to the difference in atmosphere compared to the earth's, which would shrink it more as it burned through.

RE: wth
By Souka on 12/27/2007 11:56:17 AM , Rating: 2
so a 75' hunk of rock(?) weighs

4,200,000,000,000 lbs? Seems mighty heavy to me.....

RE: wth
By uutorok on 12/27/2007 4:49:25 AM , Rating: 2
Error occured when you calculated v^2.
It should weigh about 137,000 tons, one thousand times less than your 210,000,000 tons.

RE: wth
By uutorok on 12/27/2007 4:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
Error occured when you calculated v^2.
It should weigh about 137,000 tons, one million times less than your 210,000,000,000 tons.

RE: wth
By Goty on 12/27/2007 10:30:59 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, you're right, I dropped the square. Should be about 1.44x10^11 grams, or about 158,000 tons.

RE: wth
By chaos386 on 12/27/2007 1:22:34 AM , Rating: 2
The "3 megaton" rating just means it'll create an explosion equivalent to 3 million tons of TNT.

RE: wth
By Debby on 12/27/2007 3:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
To put this into perspective Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only 20 kiloton bombs or 0.2 megatons. This one will be 15 times as big as those but still much smaller than what happened in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908 which was 15 megatons.

RE: wth
By qdemn7 on 12/27/2007 4:59:23 AM , Rating: 2
Heinlein stated in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" that the impact of 100 metric ton mass at 11/kps would be equivalent to 2 kilotons of TNT.

As an aside, a 100 ton mass would be about 13 ft / 4 meters in diameter. One roughly 75 ft / 23 meters in diameter would be 20,000 tons.

RE: wth
By maverick85wd on 12/27/2007 6:43:01 AM , Rating: 2
20 kilotons is .02 megatons, not .2

through me off for a second

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