By Tara Rippin • 27 March 2021 • 14:41
NASA claims Earth is safe from asteroid Apophis for 100-plus years.
THE near-Earth object was thought to pose a slight risk of impacting Earth in 2068, but now radar observations have ruled that out.
After its discovery in 2004, asteroid 99942 Apophis had been identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth.
But that impact assessment changed as astronomers tracked Apophis and its orbit became better determined.
Now, the results from a new radar observation campaign combined with precise orbit analysis have helped astronomers conclude that there is no risk of Apophis impacting Earth for at least a century.
Estimated to be about 1,100 feet (340 metres) across, Apophis quickly gained notoriety as an asteroid that could pose a serious threat to Earth when astronomers predicted that it would come uncomfortably close in 2029.
Thanks to additional observations of the near-Earth object (NEO), 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 this month, however, a small chance of impact in 2068 still remained.
When Apophis made a distant flyby of Earth early in March, astronomers took the opportunity to use powerful radar observations to refine the estimate of its orbit around the Sun with extreme precision, enabling them to confidently rule out any impact risk in 2068 and long after.
“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,” said Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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