Moscow, Dec 22: An asteroid, which is believed to be on a collision course with Mars, will not affect the Earth if it hits the 'Red' planet in January 2008, a Russian Academy of Science spokesman said today.
The asteroid, which is travelling at eight miles per second, was discovered in November by American scientists. Mr Sergei Smirnov said the explosion could be on a scale equal to the Tunguska event, when a meteorite, which crashed into central Siberia in 1908 caused destruction on a nuclear scale. The enigma still thrills scientists all over the world. ''It will not influence the Earth in any way,'' Mr Smirnov was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying. The scientist said if the collision takes place, it will not be visible without high-definition telescopes, but would still provide valuable scientific data ''The object is sure to change its flight path, and this will considerably enrich our knowledge of the mass and density of asteroids.''
He added that a large asteroid was expected to pass near Earth in 2028 which could cause a major disaster if it collides with the planet. The newly-discovered space rock, known as 2007 WD5, has a one in 75 chance of colliding with the planet on January 30 next year. While the probability of an impact is only slim, the odds have been cut from one in 350 when the object was first identified, and they are much shorter than is usual for new asteroids.
If 2007 WD5, which is about 100 metre in diameter, does strike Mars on January 30, it would cause an explosion equivalent to several megatonnes of TNT.