CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – NASA has liberated Earth for the next century from a particularly threatening asteroid.
The space agency announced this week that new telescope ideas have eliminated any chance of Apophis invading Earth in 2068.
It is the only 1,100-foot (340-meter) space rock that was supposed to come nearby in 2029 and again in 2036. NASA did not rule out any possibility of a strike during those two close approaches for a while. But there was still a crash of 2068 that could go on.
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Originally discovered in 2004, Apophis is now officially off NASA’s “threat list”.
“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,” said Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, in reported Friday.
Scientists were able to orbit Apophis around the sun thanks to radar observations earlier this month, when the asteroid passed within 10.6 million miles (17 million kilometers).
Apophis comes within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of April 13, 2029 – about a tenth of the distance between the Earth and the moon – allowing astronauts to get a good view.
“When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for dangerous asteroids,” Farnocchia said. “We’re pleased to see him removed from the risk list.”