- The Chicago Astronomer -
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The web is plastered with stories of this asteroid. At first astronomers thought there was a one in 350 chance of it striking Mars on January 30, 2008 at 2:55 a.m. Pacific Standard time. (This page says 6 a.m., but most sources give the earlier time.) They upgraded the chance to one in 75, and now the chance is one in 25. This is remarkable since normally asteroid strikes are given chances of one in a million or more. Mars experiences such impacts perhaps once in a thousand years.
The object is tiny, only 50 meters in diameter. Some reports compare it to the Tunguska strike of a century ago. They observe that should it impact, near but not on the Opportunity Rover, it would excavate a crater perhaps a half mile in diameter in a 3 megaton explosion.
The asteroid will be running along at almost 50,000 kilometers per second. A variance of just a few minutes would make the difference between a hit and a miss. Astronomers are still refining their knowledge of he orbit, so they do not yet know if it will impact.