ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- An asteroid on a likely collision course with Mars could give scientists a look at what lies beneath the surface of the red planet.
The asteroid, traveling at 8 miles per second, will not affect the Earth if it hits Mars, Russian Academy of Science spokesman Sergei Smirnov told RIA Novosti in a story published Saturday.
NASA scientists have reduced the chance of an impact between the asteroid and Mars to one in 75. A direct hit next month would throw up a plume of debris that scientists could analyze for clues about what lies below the planet's surface, The Telegraph reported Saturday.
The impact of the asteroid on Mars could equal the impact of the Tunguska meteorite, which caused massive destruction when it crashed into central Siberia in 1908," Smirnov said, noting a large asteroid expected to pass near Earth in 2028 could cause a major disaster if it collides with the Earth.