This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

02 January 2008

2007 WD5 (potential Mars impactor): Updates

From JPL NEO:

The impact probability for a collision of asteroid 2007 WD5 with Mars on January 30 has increased from 1.3% to 3.9%.

Pre-discovery observations of asteroid 2007 WD5, taken on November 8, 2007 have allowed its orbit to be refined and the uncertainties for the late January Mars encounter have been improved. The impact probability resulting from the recent orbit refinement has increased to a surprising 3.9% (about 1 in 25 odds). The uncertainty region during the Mars encounter now extends over 400,000 km along a very narrow ellipsoid that is only 600 km wide. Since the uncertainty region intersects Mars itself, a Mars impact is still possible. However, the most likely scenario is that additional observations of the asteroid will allow the uncertainty region to shrink so that a Mars impact is ruled out. In the unlikely event of an impact, the time would be 2008 January 30 at 10:56 UT (2:56 a.m. PST) with an uncertainty of a few minutes.

"Mars Impact Probability Increases to 4 Percent"
Don Yeomans, Paul Chodas and Steve Chesley
NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office
December 28, 2007

Link: JPL NEO Site story on 2007 WD5

Link: Wikipedia entry for 2007 WD5

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