NASA has been worried about a possible collision with this large asteroid since 2004.
The US space agency NASA has calculated that the asteroid 9942 Apophis will pass the Earth with a distance of “only” 32,000 kilometers. The event will take place on Friday, April 13, 2029. The passage will be visible to the naked eye – without telescoping to telescopes or binoculars.
The asteroid has a full 340 meters in diameter and can cause enormous damage if it collides with the Earth.
This animated video for NASA shows the assumed orbit of the asteroid Apophis as it passes over Earth on April 13, 2029.
In the past, there has been tension and fear associated with this asteroid. NASA scientists were not entirely sure whether a collision between Earth and the asteroid could be completely ruled out in the relatively near future.
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Possibly dangerous asteroid
Since 2004, Apophis is considered the most dangerous asteroid that could possibly hit the Earth.
Initially, NASA was not sure if the asteroid could possibly collide with Earth in 2029. Then this opportunity was postponed to the year 2036, and now no later than 2068.
Now NASA can bring good news, at least for anyone living today.
– The possibility of a collision in 2068 is no longer within reach, and our calculations show no collision risk for the next 100 years, says Davide Farnocchia at the NASA Center Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) in a statement.
As the name suggests, CNEOS monitors objects in space that pass at a relatively close distance to Earth.
– When I started working with asteroids after my studies, Apophis was the top candidate among dangerous asteroids, says Farnocchia.
* Asteroids are small, solid and irregularly shaped celestial bodies of iron and rock that orbit the sun. Most asteroids in the solar system lie in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Since 1993, hundreds of asteroids have been discovered in the Kuiper Belt of the orbit of Neptune, and even further out.
* It is estimated that there are about 100,000 asteroids with a diameter greater than one kilometer. The total mass of all asteroids in the solar system is less than the mass of the moon.
* Asteroids orbit the Sun in the same direction as the planets. Asteroids that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Apollo asteroids. It is estimated that there are about 1200 asteroids with a diameter greater than one kilometer at the Earth’s orbit. These represent a not insignificant risk of collision for the Earth.
* In 2017, a non-solar asteroid was first observed, a so-called interstellar asteroid. The interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua’ (1I / 2017) has an orbit indicating that it is not gravely bound to the Sun, and that it travels only through the universe.
Source: Store Norske Leksikon
Removed from risk list
It is believed that a collision between Earth and Apophis would have triggered an explosion, such as 508 megatons, which is 28,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II, according to Sky News.
With the support of recent optical observations and further radar observations, the uncertainty in the orbit of Apophis has collapsed from hundreds of kilometers to only a few kilometers in terms of its position in 2029. This greatly expanded knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more understanding of its future moves so that we can now remove Apophis from this risk list, says Farnocchia.
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The list that Farnocchia refers to is the Sentry Impact Risk Table. This is NASA’s own review of objects in space that have the potential to hit Earth. At the time of writing, there are 21 objects on this list.
Once astronomers have calculated the risk of colliding with objects, the object is moved to the Deleted Objects list. Apophis was transferred to this list as late as Friday, March 26th.
Some famous asteroid hits
65 million years ago: Asteroid as a comet with a diameter of approximately. 10 km made the Chicxulub Crater (Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico). Probably 75 percent of the species on earth, including the dinosaurs, became extinct.
50,000 years ago: Asteroid with a diameter of approximately. 50 m collided and formed the Barringer Crater in Arizona in the US, with a diameter of 1.2 km and a depth of 175 m.
35 million years ago: Asteroid as a comet with a diameter of approximately. 5 km created an 80 km crater at Chesapeake Bay on the east coast of the United States. The impact changed many river courses and led to changes in groundwater bodies.
251 million years ago: Asteroid as a comet with a diameter of approximately. 10 km made the Bedout Crater off the northwest coast of Australia. Probably extinct 90 percent of marine life and perhaps 80 percent of land life. Violent earthquakes probably began and caused global climate change
110 years ago (June 30, 1908): Asteroids like comets with a diameter of about 60 m exploded about. 8 km above Tunguska in Siberia and leaves the forest in an area of 2000 km 2. The explosive effect is estimated to be up to a maximum of 10 megatons, ie like 500 Hiroshima bombs.
Source: Store Norske Leksikon
“Snow” the earth in 2029
According to NASA, Apophis will clean the earth with a clearance of 32,000 kilometers in just eight years. It may sound very far away, but the asteroid will be closer to Earth than many geosynchronous satellites – these are satellites that go in a synchronous orbit around the Earth with an orbital period of about one day.
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Using a powerful telescope and radar, NASA managed to capture a relatively clear image of the asteroid, while it was 17 million kilometers away from Earth – that is equal to 44 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
“If we had a frog as powerful as this radar, we could be sitting in Los Angeles reading the menu at a restaurant in New York,” NASA scientist Marina Brozovic said in a statement.
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