'Risk averted': Asteroid Apophis not a threat to Earth for 100 years, says Nasa
- Asteroid Apophis, which has been named after the Egyptian god of chaos, was previously predicted to be close to Earth in 2029 and 2036. It was also predicted to have a slight chance of impacting Earth in 2068.
Apophis, which has been considered one of the most hazardous asteroids, will not be impacting the Earth for at least another 100 years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) said on Friday. “Studies confirm there is no risk of asteroid 99942 Apophis impacting Earth for at least another century. Originally identified in 2004, new data have better defined the orbit of Apophis, putting astronomers at ease,” Nasa’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said.
Asteroid Apophis, which has been named after the Egyptian god of chaos, was previously predicted to be close to Earth in 2029 and 2036. It was also predicted to have a slight chance of impacting Earth in 2068. "A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility anymore, and our calculations don't show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years," Davide Farnocchia, a researcher at CNEOS, said in a statement.
Method used by CNEOS for risk assessment
Apophis passed within 10 million miles of Earth on March 5 during which astronomers used radar observations to ascertain the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun. They used the 70-metre (230-foot) Deep Space Network’s Goldstone radio antenna, which is stationed in California, to watch Apophis more closely. Farnocchia said that the process removed any uncertainty for the orbit of the asteroid from “hundreds of kilometres, to just a handful of kilometres.” The centre also maintains a risk list by tracking asteroids with orbits that bring them close to Earth.
Apophis could be seen in 2029
Even though the risk posed by Apophis has been averted for the next century, the asteroid will come within Earth's gravitational field during a flyby on April 13, 2029, when it is expected to pass within 20,000 miles of Earth's surface. The asteroid will then be visible in the eastern hemisphere with the naked eye and will give a chance to astronomers to study it closely.