Massive asteroid to ram into Mars in 2008
ASTEROID - 2007-WD5
MARS - 2007 - NASA PHOTO
A massive asteroid may slam into
Mars at the end
of January of 2008. The size of the asteroid can be compared to that
of the notorious Tunguska meteorite, U.S. scientists say.
Asteroid 2007 WD5 is expected to hit Mars on
January 30, 2008 with odds of impact at 1 in 75. The speed of the
asteroid will reach 12.8 km/h. The crater that will be left on Mars
after the impact will be similar to the well-known Meteor Crater in
the state of Arizona.
into Mars, the impact will most likely occur in the equatorial area,
where Opportunity rover has been exploring the red planet since
Astronomers detected Asteroid 2007 WD5 at the
end of November 2007. It is currently flying halfway between Earth
The above-mentioned Meter Crater in Arizona
was created about 50,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch when
the local climate on the Colorado Plateau was much cooler and
damper. At the time, the area was an open grassland dotted with
woodlands inhabited by woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths, and
camels. It was uninhabited by humans, the first of whom are thought
to have reached North America only around 13,000 years ago.
The impact produced a massive explosion
equivalent to at least 2.5 megatons of TNT – equivalent to a large
thermonuclear explosion and about 150 times the yield of the atomic
bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The explosion dug out 175
million tons of rock. The shock of impact propagated as a
hemispherical shock wave that blasted the rock down and outward from
the point of impact, forming the crater. Much more impact energy,
equivalent to an estimated 6.5 megatons, was released into the
atmosphere and generated a devastating above-ground shockwave.
The Tunguska meteorite, or the Siberian rock,
is the largest meteorite explosion in recent history. The mysterious
impact occurred in 1908 in Russia’s Siberia.
The explosion was most likely caused by the
air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5
to 10 kilometers (3–6 miles) above Earth's surface. Different
studies yielded varying estimates for the meteor's size, including
50 meters, 60 meters, 90 to 190 meters, and up to 1200 meters in
diameter. Although the meteor or comet is considered to have burst
prior to hitting the surface, this event is still referred to as an
impact event. The energy of the blast was estimated to be between 10
and 20 megatons of TNT — 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb
dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion felled an estimated 80
million trees over 2,150 square kilometers (830 sq mi). It is
estimated to have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.
An explosion of this magnitude had the
potential to devastate large metropolitan areas had it occurred over
a large city. This possibility has helped to spark discussion of
asteroid deflection strategies
Astronomers watching as
asteroid crosses Mars' path
Washington - The idea of an asteroid impacting Earth has long
preoccupied science-fiction writers. But the US space programme,
NASA, also takes the threat seriously. Its astronomers will be
watching closely early next year as an asteroid passes across the
orbit of its near neighbour, Mars.
The 50-metre-wide body, one of thousands of asteroids that orbit
the Sun on erratic courses, is expected to pass within 48,000
kilometres of Mars on January 30 and could even hit the red planet,
scientists at the Near-Earth Object Office said Friday.
"Over the next five weeks, we hope to gather more information
from observatories so we can further refine the asteroid's
trajectory," said Don Yeomans, manager of the near-Earth programme
at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
The asteroid, called WD5, is about half-way between Earth and
Mars and closing in on the red planet at a speed of 43,000
kilometres per hour.
It was discovered on November 20 by the NASA-funded Catalina
Sky Survey. The near-Earth scientists determined it was not a danger
to Earth but could impact Mars, where it was given a 1-in-75 chance
of a collision. If it hits, it could create a crater about 800
metres wide, the scientists said.
"We estimate such impacts occur on Mars every thousand years or
so," said Steve Chesley, a JPL scientist.
The last event on Earth of similar magnitude is believed to
have happened in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia. The asteroid likely
disintegrated when it entered Earth's thick atmosphere, but the air
blast was blamed for destroying a large forest area.
Asteroids are believed to be the remnants of material left over
after the Sun's major planets were formed.
Copyright, respective author or news agency
Asteroid could hit Mars next month: NASA
The US space agency's Near Earth Object Program (NEOP)
revealed that the asteroid's exact course was difficult to
predict, but said it could slam into Mars on January 30,
leaving a crater measuring an estimated 1 kilometer across.
If the asteroid, which has been named 2007 WD5, missed
Mars as expected it could return to swing past Earth years or
decades later, but there was no indication of a threat to the
planet, scientists said.
A collision with Mars would be likely to send an
enormous dust cloud into the planet's atmosphere.
The exact path of the asteroid, which was discovered in
November by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson,
Arizona, was becoming increasingly difficult to observe
because it was receding from the Earth, scientists said.
The asteroid, believed to measure around 50 meters (160
feet) across, had already passed within 7.5 million kilometers
(5 million miles) of Earth in early November.
NEOP scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La
Canada Flintridge in California told the Los Angeles Times
they were excited by the possibility of an asteroid striking
Mars, describing it as "wildly unusual."
"We're used to dealing with odds like one-in-a-million,"
said astronomer Steve Chesley. "Something with a
one-in-a-hundred chance makes us sit up straight in our
Any strike on Mars would be comparable to the Tunguska
asteroid hit in Siberia, Russia in 1908, which felled 80
million trees over 2,150 square kilometers (830 square miles).
Depending on where the asteroid struck, NASA spacecraft,
including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and two surface
rovers -- Opportunity and Spirit -- might have a ringside
seat, offering a "scientific bonanza," Chesley said.
"Normally, we're rooting against the asteroid (if it is
threatening Earth)," Chesley said. "This time we're rooting
for the asteroid to hit."
December 27, 2007
New Mexico Tech
special to Mountain Mail
SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- New
Mexico Tech’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory
is already making its mark in the annals of
astronomy research after being recently tasked
NASA to make detailed observations of an
asteroid that is now given a 1-in-75 chance of
hitting Mars on January 30, 2008.
On Tuesday afternoon, December 18, Observatory
researchers began tracking the asteroid,
designated 2007 WD5, with the research
facility’s 2.4-meter telescope.
The observations taken that evening are
directly responsible for increasing the
probability of an impact from about 1-in-350
to 1-in-75, resulting in the current level of
excitement about this celestial object.
The Observatory MRO is near the summit of the
Magdalena Mountains about 26 miles west of
“It was quite surprising to all of us at the
Magdalena Ridge Observatory when out of the
blue we received an emergency request from
NASA to point our telescope at this particular
asteroid which had only been discovered last
month,” said Eileen Ryan, project scientist
“We’ll resume tracking 2007 WD5 on December
26, when it re-appears from its current
trajectory which has taken it behind the
Moon,” Ryan said. “We’re all thrilled to be
playing a significant role in this latest NASA
If the 160-foot diameter asteroid strikes Mars
next month, the event would be considered a
“scientific bonanza,” NASA scientists said,
since an asteroid impact with a planet has
never been observed — the closest thing being
the 1994 collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy
“If this collision with Mars does happen,
seeing two impacts occur on major planetary
bodies in the course of a decade or so
reinforces the point that the Near-Earth
Object (NEO) risk is more than just the
Hollywood movies,” Ryan said.
Since NASA now has the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter currently mapping the planet, Ryan
said, NASA scientists will be able to maneuver
the orbiter into position to image an impact
event if one does occur. In addition, NASA’s
two rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, may also
be able to take pictures from the surface of
“If a body this size impacts Mars, the
resulting crater could be as large as a half a
mile in diameter,” Ryan related.
The MRO is primarily intended for astronomical
research and includes two distinct facilities
— a single 2.4-meter-diameter telescope and a
moveable array of up to ten 1.4-meter-diameter
telescopes linked together to form a single
Initial research projects being conducted with
the MRO 2.4-meter telescope are more along the
lines of “classical astronomy,” MRO scientists
said, and include an ongoing study of small
bodies in our own Solar System, primarily
near-Earth objects such as asteroids.
Research at the Observatory also is ongoing in
the area of space situational awareness,
characterizing artificial objects in the
near-Earth zone to contribute to national
security efforts for the
U.S. Department of Defense.
“The MRO operates one of the largest
telescopes in the world that is currently
undertaking as a primary mission the
observation and physical characterization of
near-Earth objects,” said Ryan.
In addition, with the Observatory’s extensive
and unprecedented capabilities,
astrophysicists also are able to better study
and understand the processes of star and
planet formation, stellar accretion and mass
loss and active galactic nuclei.
Tech is the lead institute of a
research-university consortium that was formed
to design, develop, construct, test, and
operate the Observatory. Additional members of
the international consortium include the
Cavendish Laboratory at the
University of Cambridge in
New Mexico State University,
New Mexico Highlands University,
University of Puerto Rico, and
Los Alamos National Laboratory.
For more information, log onto the facility’s
website at www.mro.nmt.edu.
Mail Socorro, New Mexico. All Rights
Chance of Asteroid Hit on Mars
December 28, 2007
By ALICIA CHANG
AP Science Writer
LOS ANGELES— The chance of a football
field-sized asteroid plowing into Mars
next month has been increased to 4
percent, scientists said Friday after
analyzing archival data.
Though still a long shot, some researchers
are hoping for a cosmic smash.
"I think it'll be cool," said Don Yeomans,
who heads the Near-Earth Object Program at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Usually
when an asteroid is headed toward Earth,
I'm not rooting for an impact."
The space rock, known as the nondescript
2007 WD5, was discovered in late November
by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in
Arizona. Based on the latest information
available, scientists said last week there
was a 1-in-75 chance the asteroid could
hit Mars on Jan. 30.
The odds were increased to 1-in-25 this
week after a Ph.D. student pored through
the archives and plotted the asteroid's
motions before its official discovery. The
new information allowed scientists to
improve their calculations of the
asteroid's orbit and flight path.
Scientists will continue to monitor the
asteroid to better predict the possibility
of a Martian impact. Yeomans said he
expects the odds to decrease with new
observations gathered early next year.
The likelihood of an asteroid hit usually
"peaks before plummeting to zero with
additional data," he said.
The asteroid poses no threat to Earth and
is closing in on the Red Planet at 27,900
Should a collision occur, it would likely
blast a half-mile-wide crater north of
where the rover Opportunity has been
exploring since 2004.
The impact could release energy similar to
the 1908 Tunguska object that exploded
over remote central Siberia and wiped out
60 million trees.
On the Net:
Near Earth Object Program:
Rendezvous with Mars: The Second Sun and Red Kachina
On January 9, scientists from the Near Earth Object Program
(NASA/JPL) released their latest estimate on the projected
flight path of an asteroid (2007 WD5) that had been earlier
predicted to hit Mars with odds of 1 in 25 . The
final estimate is that on January 30, the 50 meter asteroid
will miss Mars by approximately 4000 kilometers, a near miss in
astronomical terms. Hopes that scientists would learn more about
conditions on Mars and the consequences of a similar asteroid
impact on Earth were dashed with the January 9 announcement. The
scientific community therefore expects the asteroid to have its
Martian rendezvous with nothing out of the ordinary occurring.
A non-eventful close flyby is the most likely result
according to the standard cosmological model where asteroids are
electrically neutral bodies flying in the vacuum of space.
However, while the asteroid will closely miss Mars, according to
an astronomical model called 'Plasma Cosmology', there is likely
to be a very significant "plasma discharge" between Mars and the
asteroid. The plasma discharge will light Mars up in a stunning
way as the asteroid discharges with Mars, the positive
electrical charge it gained from its closest approach to Earth
on November 2, 2007. This means that the asteroid (carrying a
positive charge relative to Mars) and Mars (carrying a negative
charge relative to the asteroid) will for a short period form a
giant celestial capacitor that discharges.
Furthermore, Mars proximity to Earth in their respective
orbits will make Mars appear to be a second sun for a short
period of time. So it can be predicted that Mars, after it
absorbs a plasma discharge from the passing asteroid 2007 WD5,
will for a period become a red sun. This makes the expected
rendezvous of Mars and the asteroid far more significant than a
mere close miss as suggested by the standard cosmological model.
The flyby raises the intriguing possibility that a red sun
emerging from the plasma discharge between Mars and asteroid may
be a fulfillment of Hopi Indian prophecies concerning the
appearance of the Red Kachina. First, some background
information will be helpful....
Plasma Cosmology is an astronomical model that posits that
the sun and planets are electrically charged celestial objects that exist in an electric field that is generated
by the sun in a radial direction throughout the solar
system. Charges flow through this electric field by virtue
of the plasma particles that are constantly being released
by the sun (aka solar wind). Plasma is the fourth state of
matter (solid, liquid, and gas being the first three) and
comprises the free protons, neutrons, electrons and ions
that make up neutral atoms. Importantly, plasma makes up
approximately 99.999% of the visible universe so its
behavior is increasingly an area of scientific interest.
Plasma is not electrically neutral, but is a
superconductor that can carry electrical charges
throughout the solar system (and indeed into interstellar
and intergalactic space) through what are known as Birkeland currents.
Named after their discoverer, Kristian Birkeland, a
Norwegian astronomer, Birkeland currents comprise
positively and negatively charged particles looping around
each other in ways that form filaments similar to winding
DNA. So as electrical charges are distributed by plasma
through the solar system, then different regions of space
become electrically charged depending on their distance
from the sun. Put simply, the sun forms a giant anode
where positive charges are most abundant (due to Birkeland
currents from the galactic core) while the distant ends of
the solar system form the most negatively charged regions
of the solar system (cathode). In between, the electric
field of the sun and the Birkeland currents flowing from
it through space, provide positive charges to planets,
asteroids and comets depending on the nature of their
orbits and proximity to one another.
Planets rotating in a stable circular path maintain a
steady distance from the sun. Consequently, their electric
charges do not vary greatly unless they pass through one
or more of the Birkeland currents streaming from the sun
in the form of invisible rivers of electrical current.
When a comet or asteroid moves close to a planet or the
sun on an elliptical orbit, its electrical charge is
significantly different in that region of the solar
system's electrical field. The accumulation of charge
and/or a plasma discharge subsequently occurs. For
example, when comets travel close to the sun, plasma
discharges (aka Coronal Mass Ejections) have been observed
to occur. Most astronomers are puzzled by such events
which they currently regard as mere coincidence. For
supporters of plasma cosmology, however, the sun's
behavior when comet's approach is
evidence of the plasma discharge that regularly occurs
when two charged celestial bodies approach each other.
This has led to plasma cosmologists making accurate
predictions about plasma discharges involving celestial
bodies. For example, in the case of NASA's Deep Impact
mission to the comet Tempel I, where an 800 lb projectile
was sent crashing into the comet's core,
it was predicted that a flash (a plasma discharge)
would precede the actual physical impact and light up the
comet. This is
exactly what happened thereby giving powerful support
to the plasma cosmology model.
Asteroid Rendezvous with Mars
On November 2, 2007, the asteroid did a relatively close
flyby of the Earth as seen in the diagram (on left) where
2007 WD5 is superimposed over Earth. It was only 0.0479AU
(approximately 7 million kms) from Earth. This is close
enough for the asteroid to be positively charged by the
Earth's magnetosphere. Charged in this way, the asteroid
is now carrying an abundance of positively charged ions,
relative to Mars, as it races towards it for its January
30 Martian rendezvous.
In understanding what happens when asteroid 2007 WD5
approaches Mars, what must be considered is the electrical
charge it carries. The asteroid normally orbits in a
region between Earth and Jupiter (see the following two
diagrams depicting its orbit). So it would accumulate or
discharge plasma depending on the region of space it is
traveling through, and the Birkeland currents it
encounters. However, when asteroids approach planets, they
may accumulate a positive charge from a planet closer to
the sun, and undergo a plasma discharge as it passes close
by a more distant planet. This is exactly what is likely
to happen with asteroid 2007 WD5.
According to the plasma cosmology model, the difference
in electrical potential between Mars and the asteroid will
result in a plasma discharge between the two. The
asteroid, carrying a positive charge gained from Earth,
will result in a plasma discharge that lights Mars in a
spectacular fashion. Put simply, for a short period of
time, Mars and the asteroid will form a giant celestial
capacitor that discharges causing them both to light up in
a fashion resembling a second sun. Given that Mars and
Earth are relatively close in their respective orbits on
January 30 (see diagram below), the plasma exchange
between Mars and the asteroid will be very visible in the
night sky, and will have a distinctive red hue to it.
While the plasma discharge between Mars and the
asteroid will certainly be a rare celestial event, what
makes it even more intriguing is that rumors have begun
circulating the internet that over the next few weeks,
a second sun will mysteriously appear in the sky. The
likelihood that a plasma discharge between the asteroid
and Mars will light Mars up spectacularly raises the
possibility that it could be the second sun alluded to in
such predictions. In fact, if the plasma cosmology model
is correct, it can be predicted that Mars will light up as
a (red) second sun on or around January 30, 2008.
On October 24, 2007 Comet 17P/Holmes lit up in a
spectacular way. The coma of the relatively small comet
with a core of several kilometers, grow in size to be
larger than the sun (diagram on left shows Holmes and
the sun compared with Saturn). Its spectacular increase
thrilled sky watchers for over a month as it formed a
faint blue sun in the night sky. Comet Holmes' expansion
was a mystery, according to most astronomers. In the
plasma cosmology model, Comet Holmes expansion was due to
a plasma discharge as it entered a region of space where
the charges accumulated by the comet in its orbit
discharged. The plasma discharge appeared to happen when
Comet passed through the magnetosphere of Mars causing
its spectacular expansion. Such an event is likely to
repeat itself as the asteroid experiences a close
rendezvous with Mars. The smaller size of the asteroid,
when compared to Comet Holmes, makes it an unlikely
candidate for the coma expansion experienced by Comet
Holmes. However, that is not so for Mars which has
sufficient mass to undergo a spectacular plasma discharge
and coma expansion that replicates what occurred with
Comet Holmes. Consequently, it is predicted that Mars will
undergo a spectacular expansion on or soon after the
January 30 rendezvous. So this coming event may qualify as
the mysterious second sun prediction.
Mars and the Red Kachina
A final point worth discussing about the possible
spectacular expansion of Mars in the night sky is what
significance to attach to the formation of a second sun
that has a red hue to it. This raises the intriguing
question of whether the January 30 asteroid rendezvous
with Mars could signify the coming of the fabled Red
Kachina in Hopi Indian prophesy. This follows earlier
speculation that Comet Holmes formed the Blue Kachina, and
its appearance in 2007 was
predicted by crop circles created in 2005.
Hopi Prophesy states:
The return of the Blue Star Kachina who is also known
as Nan ga sohu will be the alarm clock that tells us of
the new day and new way of life, a new world that is
coming. This is where the changes will begin. They will
start as fires that burn within us, and we will burn up
with desires and conflict if we do not remember the
original teachings, and return to the peaceful way of
life. Not far behind the twins will come the Purifier .
The Red Kachina, who will bring the Day of Purification.
On this day the Earth, her creatures and all life as we
know it will change forever. There will be messengers
that will precede this coming of the Purifier. They will
leave messages to those on Earth who remember the old
The Red Kachina signifies the time of purification when
humanity faces a series of fundamental choices in its
evolution. Successful choices will lead to a harmonious
transition from the 4th world (which refers to current
Western civilization) to the fifth world which represents
a new world based on truth, justice, peace and harmony.
The prediction of Comet Holmes/Blue Kachina by crop
circles discovered in 2005 raises the intriguing questions
of who made them, and is there any relationship with Mars
possibly lighting up on January 30, 2008? According, to
the Hopi, the transition from the fourth to fifth world
will herald the return of the "brothers from the Stars."
Are extraterrestrials responsible for making the crop
circles, and therefore drawing humanity's attention to
celestial events that portend widespread planetary
In conclusion, on January 30, 2008, humanity is likely
to witness a remarkable celestial event. The possible
lighting up of the red planet, Mars, due to a plasma
discharge caused by asteroid 2007 WD5 may signify nothing
more than a very rare celestial event. At the very least
this will give powerful evidentiary support for the Plasma
Cosmology model that currently is largely dismissed by the
mainstream astronomical community. There may, however, be
more to Mars briefly becoming a red sun than simply
demonstrating the validity of plasma discharge predictions
concerning celestial bodies. The formation of a red sun
may well signify the Red Kachina as foretold in Hopi
prophesy. Such prophesy alerts us to celestial events that
herald a time of rapid planetary transition. We can look
forward to whatever happens on January 30 as the start of
a fascinating journey for humanity as it seriously ponders
the confluence of a rare celestial event, Native American
prophecies, crop circles and exopolitics.
Michael E. Salla, Ph.D
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