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Earth to Crash into Mars in Far Future

Date: 28.07.2009

Astronomers calculate there is a tiny chance that Mars or Venus could crash with Earth

However it would not happen for at least a billion years.

The finding comes from simulations to show how orbits of planets might evolve billions of years into the future.

But the calculated chances of such events occurring are tiny.

A team led by Jacques Laskar shows there is also a chance Mercury could strike Venus and merge into a larger planet.

Astronomers had thought that the orbits of the planets were predictable. 20 years ago, though, researchers showed that there were slight fluctuations in their paths.

Now, the team has shown how in a small proportion of cases these fluctuations can grow until after several million years, the orbits of the inner planets begin to overlap.

"It will be complete devastation. The planet is coming in at 10 km per second - 10 times the speed of a bullet - and of course Mars is much more massive than a bullet", Professor Laskar, said.

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