A group of U.S. astronomers say there is a chance an asteroid could hit the planet Mars by the end of next month.

Stargazers in Arizona discovered a 50-meter wide asteroid in November that was designated "2007 WD5."  Astronomers at the U.S. space agency NASA's Near-Earth Object Office are tracking the object and say it may pass within 48,000 kilometers of Mars by January 30.

The astronomers say there is a one-in-75 chance the asteroid will strike the planet on that day.  The asteroid is compared to a similar object that struck Siberia in 1908 with the energy of a three-megaton bomb and destroyed tens of millions of trees.

NASA officials say if the asteroid does hit Mars, it will do so near the location of its Opportunity rover, which has been exploring the Martian surface for three years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.