1 in 10,000 chance of asteroid striking Mars, say NASA scientists

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London, Jan 11 : Scientists have significantly reduced the chances of an asteroid striking Mars on 30 January to 1 in 10,000, effectively ruling out a collision.

The space rock, an asteroid called 2007 WD5, was discovered on 20 November 2007 and initial calculations suggested the 50-metre space rock had a 1 in 75 chance of striking Mars on 30 January, with further observations indicating that the possibility of an impact was as high as 1 in 25.

However, NASA's Near Earth Object (NEO) program office is now suggesting that the best estimate was for the asteroid to pass at a distance of more than 16,000 miles from the surface of Mars, or at worst, no closer than 2,480 miles.

The likelihood that 2007 WD5 could have hit Mars underlined the risk that a similar space rock could one day crash into Earth, reports New Scientist.

NASA says that within a few years, it should find 90 percent of potentially dangerous asteroids larger than 1 kilometre across.

However, smaller space rocks such as 2007 WD5 may go unnoticed until shortly before a possible impact, signifying the only alternative would be to vacate any populated areas that appeared to lie in its path.

Discovered by astronomers at the University of Arizona as part of the Catalina Sky Survey, 2007 WD5 is a 164-foot (50-meter) wide space rock that circles the sun on a path ranging from just outside Earth's orbit to the outer fringe of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, NASA officials said.

ANI

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