“In the unlikely event of an impact..”

When I noted the asteroid 2007 WD5 previously the impact probability with Mars was a 1 in 75 chance, described by NASA astronomer Steve Chesley as “a very high impact probability for what we’re used to dealing with”. Yesterday NASA reported that the discovery of more data on the asteroid’s orbit has allowed them to refine the orbit and the uncertainties. It’s still more likely to miss than to hit, but the chances have gone up to 1 in 25 (an increase from a 1.3% to a 3.9% chance of impact). From the NASA press release

“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.”

Current position of 2007 WD5

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  • dewi

    Would a massive Martian impact have climatic effects on us Pete? Like astral waves of debris or such like?

  • Pete Baker

    “Would a massive Martian impact have climatic effects on us Pete?”

    Very very unlikely Dewi – even with a massive impact.

    The most you could expect, should there be an impact, is something that we know has happened in the past.

    Namely that chunks of Martian rock from the impact could make their way into the Earth’s orbit and fall through the atmosphere as meteorites.

  • joeCanuck

    Gee Pete, you’re so fast. I was about to send you a link on this.
    Well done for keeping us up to “speed”.

  • joeCanuck

    On a related topic, Pete, you no doubt remember the great excitement a few years back when a team claimed that they had found tracks in one of those Mars meteorites which could (only?) have been made by bacteria. That caused controversy which swirled for quite a while.
    I read a report about a month ago (in Science?) which detailed similar, almost identical tracks, in terrestrial rocks, which have been shown to have been created by natural, non-biological, processes.

  • joeCanuck

    Any chance you can remove that annoying cold house video, Pete?
    Once was interesting but it gets wearying after a while.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    What effect would the asteroid have on Mars? Would it have more effect than a similar impact here because of the less dense Martian atmosphere and as such it would be less burned up?

  • Dewi

    I reckon the Martians can look after their own Turgon !

  • Turgon

    Sewi,
    Firstly happy Christmas and New Year.

    Secondly: I am worried. I have previously stated my belief in a flat dish shaped earth. In which case an impact could be particularly destabilising.

  • Dewi

    Nadolig Hapus a blwyddyn newydd dda i Turgon a phawb. Don’t know about you Turgon but I’m beginning to enjoy the space stuff!

  • realist

    This asteroid is said to be about 50Mls wide, so do we really know what the impact will do? Change the course of Mars’s orbit for example?

    If it misses by such a small distance will Mars’s gravity not have an affect on the direction the asteriod will be travelling and if the orbit path of the asteroid changes could we not then find ourselves in it’s road?

  • joeCanuck

    50m, realist. It will make as much difference as a gnat hitting an express train (probably even much less).
    Yes, its orbit could be affected but nobody at NASA has suggested that it could put it on a future collision course with Earth. But these things are not easy to calculate; for example, nobody has yet been able to solve the dynamics of a 3 body group.
    Nothing will happen soon. Celebrate life.

  • Glyn

    It’s a little suspicious that so far none of the posters has speculated how this will affect the DUP-Sinn Fein coalition. Who’s the minister in charge of extra-terrestrial disasters in Northern Ireland? Should he or she show some sense of responsibility and resign?

  • joeCanuck

    Well, Glyn, most of them seem to find that burying their heads in the sand avoids having to look up and is sort of like resigning.

  • Dewi

    It’s heavenly collusion Glyn:

    Collision or Collusion – dunno
    But surely an illusion
    From Hollywood – 42 inch wide
    It’s made for television

    I’ve writ an englyn!

    Seriously Joe if it’s only 50m wide that’s less impact than a plane crash ?

  • joeCanuck

    Well it’s solid, Dewi, compared to a mainly hollow plane. But yes, pretty small crater. It’ll be interesting to see if the Hubble can spot it. Don’t know if the alignment works out.

  • joeCanuck

    Back of the envelope calculation:
    The asteroid weights about 40,000 tons. Fully laden 747 a bit less than 500 tons if memory serves me.

  • joeCanuck

    And although I’ve travelled on quite a few, I still can’t understand or believe that we can throw such a thing into the air and keep it up there for half a day.

  • Dewi

    So impact energy = .5*mv squared. Probably going pretty fast as well. I still reckon the Martian Defence Force could take it out with a well aimed RPG ?

  • joeCanuck

    Do you mean Martin or Martian? 🙂

  • Dewi

    I often wondered where those arm dumps were….

  • Turgon

    Glyn has been worried about which minister has been tasked with saving the planet and most importantly Northern Ireland from these problems. I would have thought the best thing we could do is ask that great Northern Irish political export Lempit Opik to come to our rescue. I hope his interest in Cheeky Girls has not stopped him taking these matters seriously.

  • Dewi

    I’m sure you are monitoring the situation carefully from the Devenish tower Turgon. Is it true that that is where Da Vinci conducted his gravity experiments ? (Or was that Newton…)

  • joeCanuck

    Cheeky girls? Would they be Phobus and Deimos?

  • Dewi

    Cheeky girls? Would they be Phobus and Deimos?

    LOL LOL LOL Joe – v. good !

  • joeCanuck

    No, that was Scrabo Tower, Dewi. The balls ran away, of course, which is why they got the idea for the golf course there.
    Great course too; I was a member for a few years.

  • Dewi

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ef4_1192297147

    Bono’s working on an alternative.

  • joeCanuck

    And baby’s involvement is?…..

  • it annoys me too

    “Any chance you can remove that annoying cold house video, Pete?
    Once was interesting but it gets wearying after a while.
    Posted by joeCanuck on Dec 29, 2007 @ 03:16 PM”

    Take control!

    use your browser to block the website…

    video1.messagespace.co.uk