Apophis, The Killer Asteroid, has a 1 in 45,000 Chance of Impacting with Earth

A killer asteroid with approximately the size of two-and-a-half football fields hurling towards the earth at tremendous speeds and can result in human extinction upon impact. However, the chance of impact is really slim. As a matter of fact, the chance of impact is 1 in 45,000 or 0.00002%.

It’s a hoax

Recent articles on the internet stating that the asteroid will impact with the earth is false. A newly released NASA update mentions that the recalculated trajectory of the asteroid shows a significantly reduced chance of an impact. The NASA update listed here states:

Using updated information, NASA scientists have recalculated the path of a large asteroid. The refined path indicates a significantly reduced likelihood of a hazardous encounter with Earth in 2036.

Therefore, most of the articles online, stating that the asteroid will cause massive extinction in 2036 is simply not properly researched. These articles also state the non-existent planet Niribu, which was also linked to the 2012 Doomsday event. However, all of these are simply entertaining conspiracy theories, and more importantly, fictional.

Impact probability

However, the truth is that Apophis exists and its trajectory will be close to that of planet earth. But how close will it be?

Back in 2004, when Apophis was discovered, it had the impact probability of 2.7% in 2029. Recent calculations have shown that it will pass near earth, but will not cause any impact.

Apophis will be visible in 2029 when it will pass over the mid-Atlantic. It will have a distance of 29,470km from the centre of the earth, according to NASA as it passes over Earth. Now, the radius of the earth is 6,353 km to 6,384 km. So, it will pass approximately 4.6 times the earth’s radius. This is quite a distance and will not affect the earth in any way.

The asteroid, however, will get into the range of the geosynchronous satellites, or the satellites that rotate along with the earth. However, because of the angle of approach of the asteroid, it is highly unlikely to threaten the satellites.

The asteroid will be visible to the naked eye as it passes. It will appear as a bright spot moving across the sky.

Based on the same calculations and methodologies that were used to predict the April 2029 encounter, it will be likely that during April 13, 2036, Apophis will pass earth at a distance over 49 million kilometres.

You can read in detail about the trajectory of the asteroid Apophis here at NASA Center for Near Earth Object Studies.

Plans for Impact

Just because this asteroid will not impact earth does not mean that there won’t be any such hazards in the future. And when the hazards appear, humanity must be prepared.

The first line of defense is detection. With early detection, the earth will have enough time to prepare for the preventing the impact, or even preparing for the consequences of the impact. NASA has both ground and space-based satellites constantly looking at the sky for any new near earth objects. NASA also has a community program called “Spaceguard” that is used to detect, classify and plot the trajectories of these near earth objects.

Another plan is to deflect the near earth object that has a high probability of impact. The situation would be quite similar to that of the movie Armageddon. The European Space Agency’s NEO Mission Advisory Panel (NEOMAP), of which Professor Fitzsimmons is a member, has selected “Don Quixote” as their preferred option for an asteroid-deflecting test mission.

This approach will involve two spacecraft Hidalgo and Sancho. Hidalgo would impact the asteroid at a very high relative speed in an attempt to deflect it. Sancho would arrive earlier to monitor the asteroid and to predict the effects of the impact.

Richard Tremayne-Smith, from the British National Space Centre, heads up the coordination of UK NEO activity and helps provide an international lead on NEO efforts on the issue. He said, “NEO collisions are the only known natural disaster that can be avoided by applying appropriate technology – and so it is the interest of Governments across the World to take interest in this global issue. Here in the UK, we take the matter very seriously and progress is being made in taking forward the recommendations of the UK NEO Task Force Report in an international arena.”

Next 5 Close approaches

Here is a list of the next 5 close asteroid flybys

  1. 2017-WC – Flyby date: 20th November 2017 – Size: 73 feet – Distance: 702,000 miles
  2. 2017-WB1 – Flyby date: Nov 20th November 2017 – Size: 32 feet – Distance: 473,000 miles
  3. 2017-VA13 – Flyby date: 22nd November 2017 – Size: 110 feet – Distance: 3,130,000 miles
  4. 2017-VA15 – Flyby date: 22nd November 2017 – Size: 110 feet – Distance: 1,920,000 miles
  5. 2017-VZ14 – Flyby date: 24th November 2017 – Size: 120 feet – Distance: 759,000 miles

Source NEO Earth Close Approaches, UniverseToday

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