Explained: Why an asteroid Apophis has not been on Earth for at least 100 years

The U.S. space agency NASA has ruled out the possibility that the terrifying asteroid Apophis will cause any damage to Earth for the next 100 years.

Named after the ancient Egyptian god of chaos and darkness, it was discovered in 2004, after which NASA was said to be one of the most dangerous asteroids to Earth.

Apophis measures 340 meters across – compared to the size of the huge vessel that has currently blocked the Suez Canal. (That ship, the Ever Given, is 400m long, 200m wide)

What NASA has said about Apophis

Apophis was expected to come threateningly near us in the years 2029 and 2036, but NASA subsequently dismissed these events. There were still fears of a possible disaster in 2068, however.

This year, the asteroid passed Earth on March 5, coming within 17 million km of our planet. Through this approach, scientists used radar observations to closely study the orbit of the asteroid around the sun.

To monitor the Apophis movement, astronauts used the 70-meter radio antenna at the Deep Space Network Communication Center near Barstow, California. They also used the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia that showed images of Apophis. The two systems were used together in a “bistatic” test that doubled the signal strength obtained.

Based on these findings, they were able to manage the risk of any impact on Earth from Apophis in 2068 and long after.

“The impact of 2068 is no longer in the capacity scenario, and our calculations show no impact risk for at least the next 100 years,” NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said in reported Friday.

“With the help of recent optical observation and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in the Apophis orbit has fallen from hundreds of kilometers to just a few kilometers when projected to 2029. This has greatly improved the experience set in 2029 provides more certainty about future movement, so that we can now remove Apophis from the risk list. “

The “danger list” refers to the Sentry Impact Risk Register maintained by CNEOS, which includes the asteroids with orbitals near Earth.

As mentioned, the giant asteroid will now approach Earth again in 2029, when it is expected to come as close as 32,000 km – just a tenth of the distance between Earth. and the Moon.

That year, the asteroid would be seen with stellar stars in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe, without the need to use binoculars or telescopes.

What are asteroids?

Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called small planets. According to NASA, the number of known asteroids is 994,383, the remains of the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Asteroids are divided into three classes. First, those found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is estimated to be somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.

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The second group is a group of trojans, which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet. NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans. In 2011, they also reported an Earth trojan.

The third classification is Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that go close to Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth’s orbiters. More than 10,000 asteroids are known to be such, of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially dangerous asteroids (PHAs).

Apophis is classified as a PHA.