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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mars may experience a "once-in-a-billion-year" cometary impact next year.

"The first comet discovered this year, Comet C/2013 A1, is currently projected to pass within about 23,000 miles (37,000 km) of the surface of Mars late in 2014. While this event in itself promises spectacular views for astronomers, the uncertainty of the comet's orbit includes a significant chance of an impact on Mars...

"...This would not be a minor collision. Rather, it would be a once in a billion years collision, generating a crater roughly 500 km (300 mi) in diameter. The equivalent explosive force would be in the range of five to twenty billion megatons of TNT. I'm not sure that any number can really let us understand the magnitude of the collision – does half a trillion Hiroshima bombs convey a more comprehensible image? Another comparison is that the impact is about equal to a tenth of a second of the Sun's total energy output focused on one spot on the Martian surface. Not a pleasant experience for any planet."

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