Scientists predict a near-miss when Asteroid 99942 Apophis passes Earth in 2029. An asteroid flies this close to the planet only once every 1,300 years. The chance to study it will help scientists deal with the object should it threaten collision with Earth.
However there remained a possibility that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole, a precise region in space no more than about 400 meters across, that would set up a future impact on April 13, 2036.
BOULDER, Colorado - The potential for a newly discovered asteroid smacking into the Earth in 2036 cannot be discounted. NASA has sketched out a response strategy in the outside possibility that the space rock becomes a true threat.
The analysis of Apophis previews situations likely to be encountered with NEAs yet to be discovered: a close approach that is not dangerous (like Apophis in 2029) nonetheless close enough to obscure the proximity and the danger of a later approach (like Apophis in 2036) by amplifying trajectory prediction uncertainties caused by difficult-to-observe physical characteristics interacting with solar radiation as well as other factors.
It's 390m wide. And it could hit Earth in 31 years time
Hundreds of scientists around the world are working on projects to try and intercept asteroid 99942 "Apophis" and predict its trajectory more accurately. Experts have announced that the object "could" hit Earth on April 13th, 2029. The impact would unleash a cataclysmic explosion "100,000 times" more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The asteroid was named after an ancient Egyptian prophecy: "Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness". Some people believe the Bible contains prophecies about asteroid or comet impacts at the end of the world, particularly the book of Revelation, e.g.: "...I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth ... from the shaft rose smoke ... a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke..." (Rev 9:1-2); "...they were cast upon the earth ... trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up..." (Rev. 8:7); "something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea" (Rev. 8:8); "a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch..." (Rev. 8:9). There are comparable verses in other texts, e.g. Qur'an 69:13-15.
Astronomers are battling to work out the trajectory of an asteroid that will cause havoc if it hits the Earth in 2036. Called Apophis, the giant meteor is hurtling through space at 10km per second. Scientists are warning that an impact would be far more devastating than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.
NASA has unveiled plans for a “space tractor” that’ll use gravity to send asteroids on their way. Researchers at their jet propulsion unit have found the weak gravitational pull of a nearby aircraft can send wayward space obstructions of sizes up to 140 metres across off course.
We have been warned. Apophis is coming. We even have the exact date: April 13, 2036, so there's no excuse not to be ready.
But NASA recently downgraded the threat of a direct hit by Apophis from one in 42 to one in 45,000.
Her proposal involves using enhanced solar radiation pressure to move the threatening asteroid off its path to Earth by wrapping it with Mylar film, "a step up from Kevlar", she said.