Pasadena, Calif. – You can relax. The end of the world is not coming for at least another 100 years. At least it won’t happen because of a giant rock hurtling through space.
NASA tracks near-Earth objects (NEO) to calculate the risk of a catastrophic impact with an asteroid.
Most asteroids are made of materials leftover from the creation of our solar system.
Asteroid 99942 Apophis is one such object.
Born in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, Apophis is a 1,000-foot-wide chunk of rock, nickel and iron that wobbles around the Sun in just under an Earth year.
NASA became interested in the asteroid in 2004 when scientists noticed it seems to be wobbling closer and closer to Earth.
Those scientists were worried about a close call in 2029, but have since said we’re out of danger.
NASA made new observations when Apophis came close to Earth on March 5, 2021.
They were able to calculate the asteroid with what NASA calls “extreme precision,” ruling out an impact with Earth for another century.
“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 in a NASA press release.
He went on to say, “With the support of recent optical observations and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in Apophis’ orbit has collapsed from hundreds of kilometers to just a handful of kilometers when projected to 2029. This greatly improved knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more certainty of its future motion, so we can now remove Apophis from the risk list.”
So rest easy. We won’t be living the scenes of movies like Deep Impact or Armageddon. At least, not soon.
In a recent episode of the WKMG podcast “Space Curious,” planetary scientists helped explain how we know where asteroids are, and why we’re not all going to get squashed by one anytime soon. Listen to the full episode below.
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