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Mars May Get Hit By a Comet in 2014
The Slate ^ | February 28, 2013 | Phil Plait

Posted on 03/03/2013 2:33:55 PM PST by JerseyanExile

In case you just can’t get enough impact news, it looks like Mars may actually get hit by a comet in 2014! As it stands right now, the chance of a direct impact are small, but it’s likely Mars will get pelted by the debris associated with the comet.

The comet is called C/2013 A1, discovered on Jan. 3, 2013 by the Australian veteran comet hunter Robert McNaught. Extrapolating its orbit, they found it will make a very near pass of Mars around Oct. 19, 2014, missing the planet by the nominal distance of about 100,000 kilometers.

Observations taken at the ISON-NM observatory in New Mexico just this week have tightened up the orbit a bit, allowing for better predictions. Given this data, the comet may actually pass closer to Mars; another veteran comet hunter, Leonid Elenin, predicts it may get as close as 37,000 km of the surface of Mars!

...Over time, this can change the comet’s orbit a bit, which is why I said above that making accurate predictions of a comet’s position can be difficult.

...If the nucleus does hit the planet, well.

That will be amazing, and by “amazing” I mean “apocalyptic”. The nucleus size is not well known, but may be as small as 15 kilometers (9 miles) or as big as 50 km (30 miles). Even using the small number means Mars would be slammed by an unimaginable impact. The comet is orbiting the Sun backward (more on that in a second), so it will be moving at a speed of about 55 kilometers per second upon impact. That means the comet has a huge amount of kinetic energy. That energy will be released at impact as an explosion.

Doing a rough calculation, I get an explosive yield of roughly one billion megatons.

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Astronomy
KEYWORDS: 2014; comet; mars; space; spaceprogram

1 posted on 03/03/2013 2:34:03 PM PST by JerseyanExile
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To: JerseyanExile; KevinDavis

we saw what happens when a comet hits a gas giant with Shoemaker-Levy 9.... but hitting Mars would be an awesome sight. Could cause debris that becomes another small moon?


2 posted on 03/03/2013 2:39:40 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: JerseyanExile
I get an explosive yield of roughly one billion megatons.

That's a big twinkie. </obscure Ghostbusters reference>

3 posted on 03/03/2013 2:39:57 PM PST by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: JerseyanExile
With respect to some possible future comet hitting Earth: some will say that deflecting something nine miles in diameter (or bigger) is impossible.

We don't need to deflect it. We just need to hit it with something that will cause it to fragment enough that most of the energy will be released in the upper atmosphere.

4 posted on 03/03/2013 2:44:32 PM PST by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: JerseyanExile
Sorry Martians, but I'd love to see it collide. I'd love to see an apocalyptic explosion, from a safe distance, of course.
5 posted on 03/03/2013 2:45:34 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: GeronL
Could cause debris that becomes another small moon?

I think it means we don't have to go to Mars. It will be coming to us.

6 posted on 03/03/2013 2:45:54 PM PST by bigheadfred
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To: JerseyanExile

Women and minorities to be hardest hit.


7 posted on 03/03/2013 2:46:56 PM PST by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Te?xas Eagle)
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To: GeronL
*Ow!*


8 posted on 03/03/2013 2:48:53 PM PST by Salamander (We're all kinds of animals comin' round here...occasional demons, too.)
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To: Vince Ferrer

Is Washington D.C. too close? Its right on the coast, so any ‘spatter’ would glance off into the Atlantic...


9 posted on 03/03/2013 2:49:33 PM PST by 45semi (A police state is always preceded by a nanny state...)
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To: Texas Eagle

Mars is the only planet inhabited entirely by beautiful, females, and now earth caused global warming has put them at risk if CNN is correct about global warming and events in outer space.


10 posted on 03/03/2013 2:54:16 PM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: bigheadfred

lol.

that’d be bad


11 posted on 03/03/2013 3:01:50 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Salamander

ouch


12 posted on 03/03/2013 3:02:06 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: JerseyanExile

Martians are all gonna die!


13 posted on 03/03/2013 3:03:58 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: GeronL
we saw what happens when a comet hits a gas giant with Shoemaker-Levy 9.... but hitting Mars would be an awesome sight. Could cause debris that becomes another small moon?

Shoemakekr-Levy 9 hit Jupiter on the side facing away from us. We saw the flash reflect off some of its moons though, and IIRC the fireball resulting from one impact was visible over the Jovian horizon as it spread into nearby space.

14 posted on 03/03/2013 3:03:58 PM PST by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: Revolting cat!

15 posted on 03/03/2013 3:05:46 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: JerseyanExile
In case you just can’t get enough impact news, it looks like Mars may actually get hit by a comet in 2014! As it stands right now, the chance of a direct impact are small, but it’s likely Mars will get pelted by the debris associated with the comet.
If only those darned Republicans hadn't caused the sequester to happen, this could have been avoided.
16 posted on 03/03/2013 3:07:40 PM PST by Bob
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To: Texas Eagle

Some one warn Sheila Jackson-lee


17 posted on 03/03/2013 3:07:54 PM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: dfwgator

18 posted on 03/03/2013 3:09:47 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: Steely Tom

didn’t Galileo get some pictures of the impacts?

I seem to recall that


19 posted on 03/03/2013 3:11:14 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Steely Tom
And a Google search brings this up...

looks like Ganymede got hit once upon a time


20 posted on 03/03/2013 3:12:36 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: JerseyanExile

Additional comments here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2991393/posts


21 posted on 03/03/2013 3:17:37 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: JerseyanExile

"And thanks to the Republicans causing this Sequester, the comet will probably hit the flag our brave white Astronauts planted up there!"


22 posted on 03/03/2013 3:22:18 PM PST by COBOL2Java (Fighting Obama without Boehner & McConnell is like going deer hunting without your accordion)
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To: GeronL
Lucky for us we have five active probes at Mars,that is two rovers on the surface and three spacecraft in orbit around Mars, with a fourth orbiter, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN or MAVEN to launch in November of this year
23 posted on 03/03/2013 3:43:43 PM PST by jmcenanly ("The more corrupt the state, the more laws." Tacitus, Publius Cornelius)
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To: jmcenanly

Yes!

It would instantly become one of the most studied phenomenon


24 posted on 03/03/2013 3:48:48 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: brytlea; cripplecreek; decimon; bigheadfred; KoRn; Grammy; married21; steelyourfaith; Mmogamer; ...

Thanks JerseyanExile.


25 posted on 03/03/2013 5:56:26 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: JerseyanExile

(Phil sure loves his parentheticals, doesn’t he?)


26 posted on 03/03/2013 6:04:15 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: jmcenanly

I’m not at all hopeful that any will survive the debris.


27 posted on 03/03/2013 6:12:57 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: morphing libertarian

Good idea. We need to send a mission there to rescue the flag the astronauts planted.


28 posted on 03/04/2013 6:28:45 AM PST by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Te?xas Eagle)
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To: null and void

The orbiters should be safe, being in low Martian orbit. As for the landers, Opportunity might have some trouble, being a solar powered lander, but Curiosity should have no problem, as its power source is nuclear. It should be interesting getting pictures of the sky as whatever debris cloud comes to the landing sites.


29 posted on 03/04/2013 5:19:21 PM PST by jmcenanly ("The more corrupt the state, the more laws." Tacitus, Publius Cornelius)
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To: jmcenanly
A blast that large will create an ejecta plume that rains rocks all over the planet and fills the near martian space with a cloud of crud from dust to boulders. A single pea sized chunk traveling at hypersonic velocity can cripple a satellite. It will be like flying through a sandblaster.

I wouldn't be greatly surprised if even here on earth we see a noticeable increase in visible meteor trails.

Even if Curiosity is undamaged, likely as it is a small target and enjoys some protection from the thin martian atmosphere, its ability to communicate with earth will be degraded to 32 kbits/sec via its X-band direct link. This is about 1.4 gigabits per sol. As near as I can figure, this is about a third of the data rate it has with the assistance of the orbiters.

It should make for some very interesting video!

30 posted on 03/04/2013 5:52:00 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: null and void

Marvin will destroy it before it can do any damage!


31 posted on 03/04/2013 6:00:50 PM PST by GOYAKLA (Waiting for the Golden Screw to be removed from Obama's navel and his a$$ falls off!)
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To: GOYAKLA

Nah, no Earth-shattering boom:

Where’s the Earth-shattering boom?


32 posted on 03/04/2013 6:26:12 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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