|Tunguska-size asteroid may be on route for Mars|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Friday, 21 December 2007 01:38|
Following on from yesterday's news about asteroid 2007 XB23, which missed earth a mere 65,000 miles, astronomers have revealed today that another asteroid may be in for a close encounter with the planet Mars. The object, which has been named 2007 WD5, was discovered in November of this year. Astronomers believe it is roughly the same size as the one that caused the Tunguska event in 1908, and has a 1 in 75 chance of striking the red planet in January. The scientists state that these odds are unusually low, and they expect the odds to reduce further as more observations are carried out next month.
Quote: "If the asteroid does smash into Mars, it will probably hit near the equator close to where the rover Opportunity has been exploring the Martian plains since 2004. The robot is not in danger because it lies outside the impact zone. Speeding at 8 miles a second, a collision would carve a hole the size of the famed Meteor Crater in Arizona. In 1994, fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smacked into Jupiter, creating a series of overlapping fireballs in space. Astronomers have yet to witness an asteroid impact with another planet. "Unlike an Earth impact, we're not afraid, but we're excited," Chesley said.
The Shoemaker Levi 9 impact was probably the most photographed space event in the history of the universe. Telescopes from all over earth were focused in on the comet as it approached Jupiter, which at that time was probably around 800 million miles from Earth. The impacts from the comet left a visible "bruise" on Jupiter the same size our planet. The Mars impact, if it happens, will be a mere 70 million miles away. Significantly closer to home. As Chesley states, astronomers are excited about the prospect of an impact. The Bible says "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1). The majesty of the heavens are awe-inspiring. There is something very powerful in witnessing the forces of nature, even when they can be so destructive. Praise God that He has designed our solar system in such a way that the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn largely protect us from such destructive forces. But let us always remember that it is He that protects the earth, for He created the heavens and upholds them by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). And if He created them, then He will also judge them (Genesis 8:25). Trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, for He is a merciful God.