Friday, December 21, 2007

Mars under attack

A newly discovered asteroid has at least a one in 75 chance of hitting the Red Planet in January, and the odds of a collision appear to be improving. The wide chunk of rock known as 2007 WD5, 50 meters in diameter, could make a dent in Mars comparable to what a similar-sized body did 50,000 years ago on Earth. This impact resulted in the 1.2km-wide Meteor Crater (a.k.a. Barringer Crater) in Arizona. The Mars rovers are not believed to be in danger if a collision occurs, but you can be sure every instrument on Earth, in space, and on Mars will be pointed at the impact site if this cosmic smashup actually happens. The damage done to Mars, the plumes thrown into the atmosphere, and all other aspects of the collision would tell us much about our sister world.

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