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NASA Rules Out Earth Impact in 2036 for Asteroid Apophis [Space]
posted February 4 2013 21:17.12 by Giorgos Lazaridis

Good news people! Maybe you remember the potential asteroid collision that was foretasted some 2 years ago. A medium size asteroid named Apophis had some chances to hit Earth on April 13, 2036. But after a series of more precise observations from NASA, this scenario will only be used by Hollywood producers.

Apophis was originally discovered back in June 10, 2004. First estimations of its orbits from NASA gave a 2.7 percent possibility of an Earth impact during a close flyby in 2029. In continue to this estimation, a second flyby was expected in 2036. If the asteroid's orbit was affected by the Earth's gravity in 2029, then Apophis would most likely hit us in 2036.

With the new data provided by the Magdalena Ridge [New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology] and the Pan-STARRS [Univ. of Hawaii] optical observatories, along with very recent data provided by the Goldstone Solar System Radar, we have effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL. "The impact odds as they stand now are less than one in a million, which makes us comfortable saying we can effectively rule out an Earth impact in 2036. Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future

Nevertheless, the April 13, 2029, flyby of asteroid Apophis will be one for the record books. On that date, Apophis will become the closest flyby of an asteroid of its size when it comes no closer than 19, 400 miles (31,300 kilometers) above Earth's surface. To get an estimation of how close this will be, the Moon's average distance is 384,400 km. To Apophis will be 10 times closer than the Moon!

Image credit: UH/IA

[Link: NASA]

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