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 'Marsageddon' comet scenario adds to concerns about space threats

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PostSubject: 'Marsageddon' comet scenario adds to concerns about space threats   Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:46 am



It sounds like an "Armageddon" sequel, set on Mars instead of Earth: A supermassive doomsday comet is heading toward the planet in 2014, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Not even Bruce Willis.

The comet presents a good-news, bad-news situation for the Red Planet, and for us earthlings as well. NASA says Comet 2013 A1, also known as Comet Siding Spring, is almost certain to miss Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. However, there's still a chance — a less than a 1-in-600 chance — that Mars could be hit, due to the remaining uncertainty about the comet's path. That uncertainty is likely to be cleared up over the next few months, eventually resulting in an all-clear.

Even if the comet did hit, there'd be no negative effect on Earth. However, the "Marsageddon" scenario is already adding to the concern that was generated by last month's Russian meteor blast and a near-miss by a larger asteroid.

The case of Comet Siding Spring led Henry Vanderbilt, founder of the Space Access Society, to ask a scary what-if question. "If it was coming straight at us (no more or less likely than it coming straight at Mars), and given our existing space capabilities, could we do anything about it other than prepare to die?" he wrote in a posting to the Moon and Back blog. "The short answer is: Maybe."

The comet's size is the most worrisome part of the story. Based on its observed brightness, astronomers estimate that the iceball could be anywhere from 9 to 30 miles (15 to 50 kilometers) in diameter. In comparison, the asteroid that's been blamed for killing off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is thought to have been 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter.

source: http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/08/17241258-marsageddon-comet-scenario-adds-to-concerns-about-space-threats?lite
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