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Doomsday comet could hit Mars in 2014

Posted on Monday, 11 March, 2013 | Comment icon 48 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf

Image credit: NASA/JPL

A massive comet heading towards Mars is providing a stark reminder of the dangers we face from space.

In the wake of the recent Russian meteor more people than ever are now aware that death from above can and does happen. In a further demonstration of how deadly objects from space can be, a massive comet is heading towards Mars with a small chance of hitting it in 2014. The comet is believed to be anywhere between 9 and 30 miles across, an absolute civilization killer if such an object were to ever hit the Earth - by comparison the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was only 6 miles wide.

Recent events have sparked a heightened interest in developing methods to deflect potential threats from space, this week Iowa State University's Asteroid Deflection Research Center proposed a $500 million mission to use nuclear weapons to protect the Earth from a large impact. Other suggested methods include the use of solar sails, gravity tractors and lasers to try and nudge an approaching asteroid out of the way.

"It sounds like an "Armageddon" sequel, set on Mars instead of Earth: A supermassive doomsday comet is heading toward the planet in 2014, and there's nothing anyone can do about it."

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #39 Posted by Abramelin on 26 March, 2013, 15:13
So did I when I said it could be just a couple of years. We are now having an eye on Mars and the comet that might impact on Mars.
Comment icon #40 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 26 March, 2013, 18:16
That's odd, it wasn't when I posted it. NASA have removed it for some reason.
Comment icon #41 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 26 March, 2013, 19:08
That is extraordinarily unlikely. It takes a huge impact to be able to through rocks into space fast enough to reach escape velocity to start with (I really don't know if this impact would be large enough to do that, it would be less powerful than the Chixulub impact). Even if this impact DOES throw rocks into space your scenario requires the rock to not just be accelerated to Mars escape velocity, which is 5kms[sup]-1[/sup] but would need it to be accelerated to velocity consistent with a Hohmann transfer orbit and that requires a velocity of 33 kms[sup]-1[/sup]. Even in the unlikel... [More]
Comment icon #42 Posted by Abramelin on 27 March, 2013, 11:26
Because no one can say for sure - at this moment - if, where, and in what angle the comet will impact on Mars, we'll have to wait for a moment close to October 2014 for more accurate data. Btw, do you know what event on Mars was probably the cause of meteorites landing on Earth (Antarctica for instance) in the past?
Comment icon #43 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 27 March, 2013, 17:31
It doesn't matter what angle or speed the impact occurs at, for the reasons I have already given your scenario is so hugely improbable that it can be discounted. Your scenario has an even bigger flaw. As I have pointed out you need the rock to be accelerated to speeds of several ten of kms[sup]-1[/sup] in order for it to be on a trajectory that will intercept Earth in as little as two years. Mars has an atmosphere. Whilst it may be thin it would will present a barrier to smaller objects reaching the surface. Now it doesn't matter if you are travelling down through the atmosphere or ... [More]
Comment icon #44 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 27 March, 2013, 18:42
NASA have re-released the video. All very strange.
Comment icon #45 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 13 April, 2013, 10:26
Comment icon #46 Posted by smokeycat on 13 April, 2013, 11:48
Interesting. Thanks for the update.
Comment icon #47 Posted by Frank Merton on 13 April, 2013, 11:49
Aw, shucks. Well, at least lucky for any Martians.
Comment icon #48 Posted by Hazzard on 15 April, 2013, 6:51
I wish it would hit the Red planet,... if for nothing else (the science) imagine the fireworks.

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