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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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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.

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