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Asteroid Impact on Mars Said Less Likely

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[January 10, 2008]  PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Scientists tracking an asteroid approaching Mars say that an impact with the Red Planet has become less likely. Refined estimates of the asteroid's orbit were made using new observations from a telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, according to the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The impact probability fell to 2.5 percent, the NEO office said in Jan. 8 update posted on the NEO Web site. The miss distance was holding steady at about 30,000 kilometers, or 18,600 miles.

The asteroid, dubbed 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

Odds of an impact had risen to about 4 percent by late December and scientists were excited about the possibility of observing a cosmic collision on Jan. 30.

The size of a football field, the asteroid could blast a half-mile-wide crater into the Martian surface.

The NEO program looks for and tracks asteroids and comets that could potentially be a hazard to Earth.


On the Net:

Near-Earth Object Program: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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