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One of the public services I try to provide for my readers are timely warnings of potential apocalypse. So it is with a heavy heart that I announced the following:
There is a distinct possibility that, in 3.5 billion years, the Earth may collide with Mars. Or Venus. The results of either scenario would be catastrophic. Not just for Earth, but for the supermodel colonies and dolphin farms we’ll have cultivated on Mars.
Jacques Laskar, a researcher at the Observatoire de Paris, lead a study in which astronomers calculated the movement of the planets thousands of years in advance, taking into consideration the usual orbit of each celestial body and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Out of 2,501 potential scenarios, there were 25 that resulted in a “severely disrupted solar system.”
According to Laskar, “There is one scenario in which Mars passes very close to Earth,” 794 kilometres (493 miles) to be exact. “When you come that close, it is almost the same as a collision because the planets get torn apart.”
What would a planet getting torn apart look like? Helpfully, Laskar’s team has provided an illustration of that event, which they term “extreme orbital chaos.” This is what a collision between Earth and Venus might look like:
I know! Awesome, right?
It pretty much only looks bad for the Middle East, Asia, and the rest of the Pacific rim. We’d have to watch out for island-size chunks of Venus debris and boiling seas and, you know, the rain of planetary magma from the sky. But anyway, we’ll have escaped the planet by then and will be able to watch the collision from the safety of our personal space pods with our robot companions, and it looks like it will be hauntingly beautiful.
So plan accordingly.