Earth is finally considered safe from the potentially dangerous asteroid Apophis, which researchers believed would hit the planet by 2068.
“The impact of 2068 is not in the capacity scenario now, and our calculations do not show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years,” said Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in news last Friday, March. 25.
Asteroid 99942 Apophis was first identified as a threat in 2004, after astronomers predicted it would become dangerous near the earth by 2029. These were thought to be the “most dangerous asteroids that could affect the Earth. ”
Years later, as researchers learned more about the orbit of the asteroid, the year of impact was shifted to 2036 and then changed again to 2068.
This threat was finally discovered when Apophis flew far away from Earth around March 5, leading to their 2029 analysis of the asteroid’s position.
“With the help of recent optical observation and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in the Apophis orbit has dropped from hundreds of kilometers to just a few kilometers when projected to 2029,” Farnocchia explained. He added that with JPL ‘s experience of Apophis’ role in eight years, they now have more information about its future move.
Apophis may not hit the planet anytime soon, but researchers are still predicting its approach on April 13, 2029. On that day, the asteroid will be visible from half without the support of binoculars or telescopes. This level will allow near astronauts to get a close look for exploration, without worrying about the impact of Apophis on Earth.
So far, scientists know that Apophis is about 340 miles wide and will be about 32,000 meters from the earth by 2029 – much closer to earth than any known communications satellite. That distance is also about one-tenth of the Earth’s distance from the moon. JB
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