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Apophis: Asteroid That Could Hit Earth In the Future


By Lightbringer Published 3 months ago 3 min read

Have you heard about the Apophis? Over the years it has gained notoriety as an asteroid that could pose a serious threat to Earth. According to astronomers, it is predicted that the Apophis Would come very close to earth in the year 2029.

However, after additional observations, the risk of an impact in 2029 was later ruled out, as was the potential impact risk posed by another close approach in 2036. Until March 2021, however, a small chance of impact in 2068 still remained.

What is Apophis?

Apophis is a near-Earth asteroid, what this means is that it’s orbit round about the Sun brings it close to 1.3 times the distance between the Sun and Earth. The full name is actually is Apophis 99942.

When this asteroid was discovered in the year 2004, it wa predicted that there’s a 2.7% chance of it hitting Earth in 2029 and this has caused a great deal of media attention. It also for a time had a small chance of hitting Earth in 2036. Additional observations have shown it will not hit Earth in 2029 or in 2036.

Nevertheless, in 2029 Apophis will come closer to Earth than our geostationary communications satellites, likely sparking a great deal of public interest. The Planetary Society has submitted recommendations to the U.S. scientific community that identify science and outreach opportunities. We also present these recommendations at workshops and conferences.

Who Discovered Apophis?

They discovered Apophis on 19 June 2004. It was Roy Tucker, David Tholen, and Fabrizio Bernardi at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona that discovered it. Tucker was a 2002 grant recipient from the nasa Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grant Program, which funds advanced amateur astronomers who find, track and characterize near-Earth objects.

How Big is Apophis?

Just like most asteroids, Apophis is very small to know figure its precise shape and size from Earth. However, Radar images have shown it measures 450 meters (1500 feet) across its longest axis, what is means is that it is equivalent to about 5 football fields and taller than the Empire State Building in New York City. It is approximately 170 meters on its shortest axis. It is likely egg-shaped or even dual-lobed like Arrokoth, the small world NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past in 2019.

What Would Happen if Apophis Hit Earth?

Apophis would cause widespread destruction up to several hundred of kilometers from its impact site. The energy released would be equal more than 1,000 megatons of TNT, or tens to hundreds of nuclear weapons.

How Big Was the Asteroid that Killed the Dinosaurs?

The one that killed the dinosaurs, which was responsible for the extinction of 70% of Earth's species, was at least 10 to 15 kilometers in size.

That would be much larger than Apophis, but millions of people would still be killed if an asteroid that big were to hit a major metropolitan area.

How Do Astronomers Predict Potential Asteroid Impacts, like Apophis?

They should be tracked with follow-up observations that measure their position at different times; it is not enough just to find them.

These observations, taken by professional and talented amateur astronomers around the globe, are sent to the Minor Planet Center for processing. Groups at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States and the NEODyS program in Italy compute asteroid orbits from those observations. The number and quality of observations dictate the level of uncertainty in predictions.

On other occasions, when the asteroids are close enough to earth, radar is used to get more precise distance data that can be used to further refine their orbits. At some times, spacecraft even visit these near-Earth asteroids in order to allow an even more precise orbit determination.

Source: www.science.nasa.gov/


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