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Mars Impact Seems Less Likely

Steve Chesley, Paul Chodas and Don Yeomans
NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office
January 8, 2008

We have updated the orbit of 2007 WD5 using new observations from the 3.5-meter telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain. This update also incorporates refinements to the Sloan precovery observations mentioned previously. While the best estimate of close approach distance remains steady at about 30,000 km, the uncertainty in position at the close approach has decreased by a factor of three. As a result, the impact probability estimate has fallen to 2.5%, or 1-in-40 odds. If the estimated miss distance remains stable in future updates, the impact probability will continue to fall as continuing observations further constrain the uncertainties.

Updated Uncertainty region at closest approach to Mars
Updated Uncertainty Region for 2007 WD5 at encounter with Mars, shown as white dots. The thin white line is the orbit of Mars. The blue line traces the motion of the center of the uncertainty region, which is the most likely position of the asteroid.


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