Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hey! I Know That Guy!!

So...apparently there is a chance that an asteroid will hit Mars sometime at the end of next month. Up until a few days ago, there was a 1 in 75 chance that this might happen. That probability changed to 1 in 25 a few days ago thanks to research done by my brother-in-law, Dr. Andy Puckett, who has a PhD in Astronomy and is on staff at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. This research got him mentioned in a NASA press release and on NPR's Science Friday. He was also mentioned in an Associated Press story where they mistakenly referred to him as a PhD student. For the full story, visit the Puckett family blog here.

Here is Andy's explanation of the photo above:
SDSS image of 2007 WD5. This "precovery" image extended the observed arc from 29 to 41 days, and increased the probability of impact with Mars from 1-in-75 to 1-in-25. That's 4%! (The most likely result will still be a near-miss, but we should know more in early January.)

Way to go Andy!


  1. For the record, Andy is Shannon's bro-in-law, and Orin also knows him, mostly from assembling a kid-sized play kitchen with lots of sharp edges one afternoon.

  2. Boy, that must have been a pain in your asteroid, Orin.