Mars Smash Looking Likelier

Still a longshot, but cosmic collision now a 25-1 chance
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2007 7:55 AM CST
This image provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a close-up of the red planet Mars when it was closest to the Hubble Space Telescope - just 55 million miles (88 million kilometers) away taken...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Scientists say the chances of a giant asteroid smashing into Mars on January 30 have gone up steeply, the AP reports. It's still a 25-1 longshot, but stargazers have their fingers crossed. I think it'll be cool," said a NASA tracker. "Usually when an asteroid is headed toward Earth, I'm not rooting for an impact."

Scientists had thought there was a 75-1 chance that the newly discovered asteroid, the size of a football field, would crash into Mars and create a giant crater, but a Ph.D student pored through data and shortened the odds. They're likely to lengthen again as the date gets closer. The likelihood "peaks before plummeting to zero with additional data," the NASA watcher said. The rock is hurtling towards Mars at 27,900 mph, but will not put Earth in any danger.