Earth Could Collide with Mercury, Mars or Venus — In a Few Billion Years

earthA new study in this week’s Nature by Jacques Laskar and Mickael Gastineau of the Paris Observatory offers a number of different scenarios where earth meets its doom!  Planetary orbits are impacted by a number of factors and are difficult to calculate accurately over the long term, say, over billions of years.  Laskar and Gastineau developed an improved computer model that accounts for the gravitational interactions among the moon, the major planets, and Pluto in addition to the effects of general relativity.  These interactions lead to degraded orbits and create general havoc within the solar system.  Laskar and Gastineau ran their model 196 times and in each scenario there was a planetary collision somewhere in the solar system within 100 million years.  Check out Nature for more on their study.

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