Asteroid Apophis (circled) was discovered on June 19, 2004.
by Dan Vergano USA TODAY @dvergano, USA TODAY
Published: 01/11/2013 08:32pm
Worried about an asteroid smacking into Earth in 2036? Rest easy, say NASA scientists.
Observations made in the latest flyby of the asteroid Apophis, which closed to within 9 million miles away from Earth, added to earlier measures that show the hefty space rock, roughly 350 yards wide, won’t collide with us anytime soon.
“(W)e have effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in a statement. Since its discovery in 2004, impact estimates for the asteroid have steadily fallen to less than one in a million, effectively ruling out its chances of hitting us.
The asteroid will have a very interesting close fly-by of Earth in 2029, coming 10 times closer to Earth than the moon, passing some 19,400 miles away. MIT asteroid expert Richard Binzel, who observed the asteroid at the IRTF Observatory this week, notes that some space advocates have called for landing astronauts on the asteroid on the 2029 close approach.
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