Mars Robot May Observe Asteroid Impact

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Mars Robot May Observe Asteroid Impact
« on: December 22, 2007, 12:46:52 AM »
Mars Robot May Observe Asteroid Impact

Scientists at NASA's Near Earth
Object Program updated the odds of asteroid
2007 WD5 impacting on Mars from 1 in 350 to 1 in 75. If the asteroid
hits, the impact will likely be in the
area that Mars
rover Opportunity
is in. The robot is believed to be outside the immediate impact zone so
it should be able to safely observe the explosion that would result from
the asteroid hitting at 13.5 km/s, releasing the equivalent of 3 MT of
TNT. The resulting crater could be a half a mile
wide. Impacts of this size are estimated to occur only once every one
thousand years. The impact would occur near the end of January 2008.
Data from additional observatories is being gathered now and scientists
hope to calculate an updated trajectory that will tell them whether or
not the asteroid will hit Mars. For more details see the NEO report or the
JPL orbital
diagram for 2007 WD5 (requires Java).


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