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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..."

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