Ever heard an asteroid is going to drop on Earth and will cause great damage? For years there have been many predictions regarding the asteroid Apophis that was expected to crash on Earth, however, as per the latest study by NASA, the possibility has been ruled out for the next 100 years. The asteroid was discovered back in 2004 and was named after the Egyptian god of chaos and darkness. NASA had believed the asteroid to be one of the greatest threats to the planet Earth. However, the space agency now ruling out this possibility has come as a sigh of relief.
It is to note that asteroids are known as rocky objects orbiting the Sun but are smaller than planets. Some may even term them as minor planets which were formed during the formation of the solar system more than 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, as many as 994,383 asteroids are present in the solar system as the remnants. Among three categories of asteroids, this one belongs to the Near-Earth Asteroids that have orbits passing close to the Earth. There are a minimum of 10,000 asteroids which are known to cross close to the Earth with 1,400 of them being classified as potentially hazardous asteroids. Apophis, as the name suggests, is one of these.
To be sure, the asteroid is 340 metres big. Earlier, the space agency predicted the asteroid to come threateningly close to our planet and this was expected in the years 2029 and 2036. However, NASA ruled it out later. This was not it. The fear of a possible collision in 2068 still persisted. The asteroid also flew past Earth this year on March 5 and it came within 17 million km of the planet. Thanks to this, scientists used their radar observations and studied in detail the orbit of this asteroid around the sun.
Fortunately, the findings indicate that Apophis may not collide with Earth even in 2068 and long after. According to a statement by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the impact risk has been ruled out for at least the next 100 years. Therefore, the agency is now removing Apophis from the risk list. Notably, CNEOS maintains a Sentry Impact Risk Table, also known as the risk list, which includes the details of an asteroid that orbits close to Earth.
Meanwhile, Apophis is expected to approach Earth again in 2029 and will be in close proximity of 32,000 km. Stargazers would be able to see the asteroid eight years from now in Asia, Africa and some parts of Europe. And this can be seen without the use of binoculars or telescopes.