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MACJR

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Solar Power
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This could be interesting if the meteor does impact the surface of Mars.

 

 

MACJR

 

 

 

Scientists say asteroid could hit Mars

Space rock has 1-in-75 chance of Red Planet smash-up in January

 

By Alicia Chang

The Associated Press
updated
11:52 a.m. ET Dec. 21, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Mars could be in for an asteroid hit.

A newly discovered hunk of space rock has a 1-in-75 chance of slamming into the Red Planet on Jan. 30, scientists said Thursday.

"These odds are extremely unusual. We frequently work with really long odds when we track ... threatening asteroids," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The asteroid, known as 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November and is similar in size to the Tunguska object that hit remote central Siberia in 1908, unleashing energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb that wiped out 60 million trees.

Scientists tracking the asteroid, which is halfway to Mars, initially put the odds of impact at 1 in 350 and increased the chances this week after analyzing the data. Scientists expect the odds to diminish again early next month after getting new observations of the asteroid's orbit, Chesley said.

"We know that it's going to fly by Mars and most likely going to miss, but there's a possibility of an impact," he said.

If the asteroid does smash into Mars, it'll likely aim near the equator, close to where the rover Opportunity has been exploring the Martian plains since 2004. The robot is not in danger because it lies outside the potential impact zone. Speeding at 8 miles (12.8 kilometers) a second, a collision would carve a hole the size of the famed Meteor Crater in Arizona.

In 1994, fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smacked into Jupiter, creating a series of overlapping fireballs in space. Astronomers have yet to witness an asteroid impact with another planet.

"Unlike an Earth impact, we're not afraid, but we're excited," Chesley said.

Initial versions of this report misstated the chances of a collision with Mars and the date of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collision.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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MACJR

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This NASA Newsletter came in as I was typing my last post on the AP article. The NASA Newsletter is more precise and has better facts (I was not all that impressed with the AP article).

 

 

MACJR

 

 

 

DC Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Grey Hautaluoma 202-358-0668
NASA Headquarters, Washington                                               
grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov

NEWS RELEASE:  2007-152                                                      Dec. 21, 2007

Astronomers Monitor Asteroid to Pass Near Mars

WASHINGTON - Astronomers funded by NASA are monitoring the trajectory of an asteroid estimated to be 50 meters (164 feet) wide that is expected to cross Mars' orbital path early next year. Observations provided by the astronomers and analyzed by NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., indicate the object may pass within 30,000 miles of Mars at about 6 a.m. EST (3 a.m. PST) on Jan. 30, 2008.

"Right now asteroid 2007 WD5 is about half-way between Earth and Mars and closing the distance at a speed of about 27,900 miles per hour," said Don Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object Office at JPL. "Over the next five weeks, we hope to gather more information from observatories so we can further refine the asteroid's trajectory."

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," plots the orbits of these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

Asteroid 2007 WD5 was first discovered on Nov. 20, 2007, by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey and put on a "watch list" because its orbit passes near Earth. Further observations from both the NASA-funded Spacewatch at Kitt Peak, Ariz., and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico gave scientists enough data to determine that the asteroid was not a danger to Earth, but could potentially impact Mars. This makes it a member of an interesting class of small objects that are both near Earth objects and "Mars crossers."

Because of current uncertainties about the asteroid's exact orbit, there is a 1-in-75 chance of 2007 WD5 impacting Mars. If this unlikely event were to occur, it would be somewhere within a broad swath across the planet north of where the Opportunity rover is located.

"We estimate such impacts occur on Mars every thousand years or so," said Steve Chesley, a scientist at JPL. "If 2007 WD5 were to thump Mars on Jan. 30, we calculate it would hit at about 30,000 miles per hour and might create a crater more than half-a-mile wide." The Mars Rover Opportunity is exploring a crater approximately this size right now.

Such a collision could release about three megatons of energy. Scientists believe an event of comparable magnitude occurred here on Earth in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, but no crater was created. The object was disintegrated by Earth's thicker atmosphere before it hit the ground, although the air blast devastated a large area of unpopulated forest.

NASA and its partners will continue to track asteroid 2007 WD5 and will provide an update in January when further information is available. For more information on the Near Earth Object program, visit: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

An audio interview/podcast regarding 2007 WD5 is available at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcast/mars-asteroid-20071221/

A videofile related to this story is available on NASA TV and the Web. For  information and schedules, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.


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cybnetic

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this will be cool!

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MACJR

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybnetic
this will be cool!

Well, it would be cool if the asteroid hit Mars but it looks like it is going to miss. They are currently saying that the chance of a Mars strike on January 30, 2008 is projected to be only 2.5 percent.

 

Bummer. Now is a good time for Mars to get hit by an asteroid so we can see the results. I would rather this happen now instead of a couple hundred years from now... when maybe, jut maybe, have human colonies living there.

 

 

MACJR


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Ariane

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Ouch ! This is bad for business. Who will built a space station on Mars if there a risk of collision with an asteroid ?!
MACJR

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariane
Ouch ! This is bad for business. Who will built a space station on Mars if there a risk of collision with an asteroid ?!

Um, Ariane, I hate to tell you this... but there is a risk of an asteroid strike no matter what planet, moon, or space ship you live on or in. Nowhere in the solar system is without risk of an asteroid strike at some time or another.

 

In fact, there are things our in the void between the galaxies that could hit wandering space ships and rouge planets too.

 

The good new is that asteroid strikes in this solar system are far rarer today than they were a few billon years ago.

 

By the way, that asteroid they are tracking on its path to Mars, they originally started watching that rock because it crosses the Earth's orbit. If it does not hit Mars, it may one day come back and hit the Earth.

 

 

MACJR


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MACJR

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As I was saying… if the asteroid misses Mars… it could come back and hit the Earth someday. The article below my portion of this post points to that same conclusion.

 

Be warned, some of the information presented as fact in this article are actually just theory. Some say it was a comet, others say it was an asteroid, still others say it was a UFO that exploded over Siberia in 1908. My guess is that the UFO theory is the least likely. 

Oh, and the author states that there would be advanced warning and that we have the means to divert the threat of an asteroid impact… these are bold faced LIES! Although we do have much better tracking of asteroids today… we by no means can be assured that we are tracking ALL the asteroids out there near the Earth or have Earth crossing orbits! For example, an asteroid could be coming at us, right now, from the Sun side of the planet, and there is currently NO WAY TO DETECT IT from that sun side of the planet, at this time. Also, some smaller rocks, or darker asteroids, could just slip through our observations networks and hit us without warning. And furthermore, there are speculations on how we might, MIGHT, be able to deal with an asteroid… IF WE ARE GIVEN A FEW YEARS ADVANCED NOTICE that it is going to hit the Earth. If a big rock shows up next week, there is currently NO WAY TO STOP IT… period. Sure, we could try blowing it up with a nuke, but depending on the type of asteroid it is, this could actually make things worse by shattering the asteroid and turn the impact into a shotgun blast rather than a single asteroid bullet hit.

 

Anyway, the good news is that we are not likely to get hit by an asteroid in our lifetime. The bad news is that it is possible that we could get hit by and asteroid in our lifetime and that someday the Earth will be hit again (depending on how advanced future asteroid defense technology gets) by a big rock from space… I just hope it is not any time soon.

 

Give enough time, and leadership worth more than a penny out of every ten thousand dollars, maybe we will be more protected from the threat of asteroids here on the Earth.

 

 

MACJR

 

 

 

Mars Avoids Asteroid Strike

From AP and Discovery News Reports

 

Jan. 11, 2008 -- The possibility of a collision between Mars and an approaching asteroid has been effectively ruled out, according to scientists watching the space rock.

Tracking measurements of asteroid 2007 WD5 taken from four observatories have greatly reduced uncertainties about its Jan. 30 close approach to Mars so that the odds of impact have dropped to 1 in 10,000, the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a posting on its Web site.

Scientists said the best estimate was for the asteroid to pass at a distance of more than 16,000 miles from the surface of Mars, or at worst, no closer than 2,480 miles.

The asteroid was discovered in November by a Congressionally mandated, ongoing search for potentially threatening asteroids and comets. Originally identified as a possible risk to Earth, later analysis showed that the asteroid could be on a collision course with Mars.

Though in the clear for now, Earth could possibly find itself in the asteroid's path at some point in the future. It wouldn't be the first time Earth faced an impact from space. What is believed to be a fragment from a comet plowed into the Earth's atmosphere on June 30, 1908 and exploded over central Siberia with the force of a large nuclear bomb.

Unlike the 1908 event, there would be advance warning of any possible strike in the future, experts say, as well as the tools and knowledge to divert the threat.

Initial observations of asteroid 2007 WD5 raised the odds of an impact with Mars to as high as 1 in 25 before further refinements came in.

The asteroid is big enough to have blasted a half-mile-wide crater in the cold and dusty Martian surface, an event that astronomers would have liked to observe.


Discovery News at Discovery.com


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“They can shoot me dead but the moral high ground is mine!” The 10th Doctor
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