A 160 foot diameter asteroid is being tracked that has a 1 in 75 chance of smashing into Mars next month. Those whose job it is to track objects like this are interested in objects having at least a one in a million chance of hitting an object close to earth. These near earth objects are tracked to determine if the earth would be in danger of being hit. So a 1 in 75 chance is huge. Since a football field is 300 feet in length; the asteroid at 160 feet has a diameter of over half the length of a football field. That is a size that will make a significant blast impact, of nuclear proportions in fact. The Jet Propulsion Lab of Canada is tracking this asteroid named 2007 WD5. However, for the next two weeks the tracking is blocked because our moon is in the way, being between Earth and the path of the asteroid.

Like the spectacular collision created by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994, this collision with Mars will be filmed and photographed. What I find particularly exciting is that the quality of these images should be super. What’s more, there are NASA cameras in the area already waiting to provide close up video. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently mapping the surface of Mars and could be employed to film the collision, as well as the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which could be employed to search the impact site.

In 1908, an asteroid of similar size broke apart in Earth’s atmosphere and rained debris over 830 square miles of Siberia, destroying 60-80 million trees. The asteroid 2007 WD5 that’s on a collision course with Mars is traveling at 8 miles per second and would unleash energy the equivalent of a 15-megaton nuclear bomb, creating a 1/2 mile wide crater. The asteroid is anticipated to hit Mars near the equator, which is where the rover Opportunity is currently.

Stay tuned.

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