According to the latest report on its orbit, Apophis is most likely going to continue on its current path and just pass by very close to our planet. But at the same time, the study does not completely rule out a crash. This could be possible sometimes in the more distant future.
Apophis first attracted attention back in 2004, when scientists were worried that it might come to strike our planet. Further calculations ruled out this possibility. Since then, the space rock passed by the planet many times, with no other incidents.
Apophis, Safe Past, What Future?
Still, Apophis will be making its fair share of future passes, some of which might not go by as smoothly. Astrowatch.net released a report on the matter. NASA also presented its projections about the asteroid’s encounters.
According to them, this space rock will be coming by in 2029 and then again in 2036. During the 2029 pass, Apophis could get as close to our planet as no more than 20,000 miles away. This will be bringing it closer to Earth than even some of the human-made satellites.
It could also make it the closest pass of an object of its size recorded yet. The asteroid will reportedly be visible to the naked eye and will seem to be a “moderately bright point of light” as it passes over the mid-Atlantic area.
The 2036 pass was estimated to be much farther away, some million miles apart. Calculations from NASA scientists showed that there is no reason to worry about these passes.
“Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future,” said Don Yeomans at the time.
He is the manager of the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office at the JPL. However, Alberto Cellino, part of the Observatory in Turin, Italy, did point out the following.
A collision can be safely ruled out for the next couple of passes. However, Apophis will be changing its orbit in a way that is still not entirely predictable. So its ‘behavior’ in the long term is still quite hard to determine.
This asteroid is somewhere in between 700 to 1,000 feet long, so it could produce many damages were it to come crashing down on Earth. Still, for the moment, scientists state that there are no known asteroids on “a certain collision course”.
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