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Massive Comet Could Hit Mars in 2014, and We Kind of Hope It Actually Does

 

comet21.jpg

 

2013 is still young and has yet to prove its mettle, but 2014 is already looking to do some astronomical upstaging ? particularly with Mars. The Red Planet has been in the news a lot recently, mostly due to the Curiosity rover, but now a threat looms on the celestial horizon. In October of 2014, a massive comet could potentially hit Mars with the force of 35 million megatons of TNT. That?s about one-third as powerful as the one that had the dinosaurs? name on it 65 million years ago. Nothing to sneeze at.

It?s called Comet 2013 A1, but as threats go, this 1- to 3-kilometer-diameter chunk of space ice isn?t so bad.

For one, the chances of an impact are ?small but non-negligible,? according to Don Yeomans of NASA?s Near Earth Object Program. There?s really only a 1 in 2,000 chance of it hitting, so this will most likely be a flyby ? and you can bet NASA will be watching its trajectory every day until then.

Two, if the comet does hit, it would absolutely mess with NASA?s Mars Program, but it would provide us with a transformed landscape to study. We?ve currently got three satellites orbiting Mars, two rovers,  and plenty of cameras leveled at the Red Planet. Mars would be getting a serious a 35-mil-megaton-TNT makeover.

Said Michael Meyer, lead scientist of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA:

?I think of it as a giant climate experiment. An impact would loft a lot of stuff into the Martian atmosphere ? dust, sand, water and other debris. The result could be a warmer, wetter Mars than we?re accustomed to today.?

Even if Comet 2013 A1 is a near-miss, as expected, boy will we get a show. Mars? atmosphere will interact with the comet?s, meteor showers could ensue, and there could even be auroras ? which Mars normally isn?t prone to have, due to its spotty magnetism.

 

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I can imagine that the scientist are excited. It's not everyday you get to study something like that.

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We must save the Martians.

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We must save the Martians.

 

Otherwise it would be racist.

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There go my vacations plans. Damn you Priceline!

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Whether it hits Mars or not ... a certain blue Police telephone Box could be following close behind . . . !

:laugh:

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We must save the Martians.

I hope they don't find life on Mars, cause' sure as ###### the US will start borrowing more money from the Chinese so we can send the Martians foreign aid.

 

On a serious note though, I wonder if it would actually be visible from the Earth.  Like could we sit outside with a Wal-Mart telescope and watch the impact?

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Yes. The explosion would be enormous and very bright. This fragment of Shoemaker-Levy 9 hitting Jupiter was close to the same size. The original S-L9 body was <5km and broke into numerous parts.

SL9impact.jpg

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What if it just misses Mars, but has it's path altered by Mars' gravity and sends it careening towards Earth? Ruh Roh!!!

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Earth will be almost 90? from the comets track, so we're safe.

Comet_2013_A1.jpg

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Hasn't NASA/JPL/ESA already ruled out an impact? 

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We must save the Martians.

 

I know a certain red planet that needs a dose of freedom.

 

Hasn't NASA/JPL/ESA already ruled out an impact? 

 

I believe they stated it was a 1/2000 chance...even with those odds I don't think it'll hit.

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I hope they don't find life on Mars, cause' sure as **** the US will start borrowing more money from the Chinese so we can send the Martians foreign aid.

 

No, they'd send an invasion liberation force to free the planet from those red communist bastards and bring democracy to the martians.  :alien:

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That would be awesome to see!

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