Tue, Jan 01, 2008
Show 1-In-25 Odds Asteroid Will Hit Planet
Mars had best watch out. One week after scientists with the
Near-Earth Object Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena said the asteroid 2007 WD5 had a 1-in-75 chance of
hitting Mars at the end of the month, a revised look at the data
suggests the odds have grown a lot closer than that.
Last week, based on more study of the asteroid's trajectory and
history, those scientists raised odds of the impact to 1-in-25, or
four percent. Those aren't overwhelming odds, of course... but it's
a significant increase over what astronomers had already termed a
close call for the red planet.
"I think it'll be cool," Don Yeomans, manager at the Near-Earth
Object Program, told CBS News. "Usually when an asteroid is headed
toward Earth, I'm not rooting for an impact."
More updates are expected as the date draws closer -- and it's
likely the odds of impact will decrease in the coming weeks, as
scientists are able to take a better look at how the asteroid is
behaving. The risk of impact usually "peaks before plummeting to
zero with additional data," Yeomans added.
As ANN reported, 2007 WD5 is
164 feet wide, and will produce a serious impact event if it hits
Mars. Should the asteroid impact the planet, the Mars Opportunity
rover will have a front-row seat to the event, as it is
presently exploring an area just outside the projected impact
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