Asteroid's chances of hitting Mars now 1 in 28

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Mars, or very mear Mars - An asteroid dubbed 2007 WD5 is looking more and more like it will narrowly miss Mars when it flies by the planet on January 30, 2008.  The chances had increased on readings taken December 28, 2007 to 1 in 25.  However, newer readings have reduced the chances slightly to 1 in 28.

Previous estimates from just a couple weeks ago were around 1 in 75.  NASA scientists sit upright in their chairs and take notice whenever the chances are around 1 in 100 and better.  Continued readings will be made and the trajectory's probability will be updated every few days.

As additional readings are taken, the experts at NASA state the probability may eventually shrink to zero if the asteroid will miss the planet by even a few miles.  The good news is it's likely satellite orbiting Mars right now, one that's mapping the surface, could be redirected to take some close up images of the body as it passes by.

The following image shows the center location in cyan where the planned destination of the asteroid will be based on readings.  The lines going toward Mars and away from Mars indicate the uncertainty range, where the readings taken by NASA indicate a potential for error.

Read more ... Near Earth Object program at NASA's JPL, and TGDaily.com's previous coverage.