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Russian scientists say Apophis will hit Earth in 2036

In 2004, NASA scientists announced that there was a chance that Apophis, an asteroid larger than two football fields, could smash into Earth in 2029. A few additional observations and some number-crunching later, astronomers noted that the chance of the planet-killer hitting Earth in 2029 was nearly zilch.

apophisNow, reports out of Russia say that scientists there estimate Apophis will collide with Earth on April 13, 2036. These reports conflict on the probability of such a doomsday event, but the question remains: How scared should we be?

“Technically, they’re correct, there is a chance in 2036 [that Apophis will hit Earth]," said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office. However, that chance is just 1-in-250,000, Yeomans said.

The Russian scientists are basing their predictions of a collision on the chance that the 900-foot-long (270 meters) Apophis will travel through what’s called a gravitational keyhole as it passes by Earth in 2029. The gravitational keyhole they mention is a precise region in space, only slightly larger than the asteroid itself, in which the effect of Earth's gravity is such that it could tweak Apophis' path.

“The situation is that in 2029, April 13, [Apophis] flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,” Yeomans told Life’s Little Mysteries. “On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Yeomans said.

The chances of the asteroid going through the keyhole, which is tiny compared to the asteroid, are “minuscule,” Yeomans added.

The more likely scenario is this: Apophis will make a fairly close approach to Earth in late 2012 and early 2013, and will be extensively observed with ground-based optical telescopes and radar systems. If it seems to be heading on a destructive path, NASA will devise the scheme and machinery necessary to change the asteroid’s orbit, decreasing the probability of a collision in 2036 to zero, Yeomans said.

There are several ways to change an asteroid’s orbit, the simplest of which is to run a spacecraft into the hurtling rock. This technology was used on July 4, 2005, when Deep Impact smashed into the comet Tempel 1.

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On a lighter note, a small asteroid came extremely close to the Earth today (Feb. 4, 2011). The object, officially designated 2011 CQ1, was fairly small — about 2-3 meters (6.5 -10 ft) wide — and at closest approach it came within 11,855 km (7,366 miles) or about 0.03 lunar distances (LD), or 0.00008 astronomical units (AU).

The object was discovered early today by Richard Kowalski with the Catalina Sky Survey. Although scientists say there was no chance this object would hit the Earth, it did come well within what is known as the Clarke Belt among geosynchronous satellites.


Author: Michelle Bryner | Source: Life's Little Mysteries [February 04, 2011]


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2 comments :

  1. When are you going to going to finally acknowledge the Apophis event first having been brought to mankind's attention not by NASA but by the author Billy Meier who wrote about it light-years ahead of earth's scientists ...on October 10, 1981.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is right, Billy Meier through the Plajerans brought the fact that Apophis will indeed hit earth in 2036 if nothing is done to make it deviate from it's present course. There are many prophecies and predictions from Billy Meier and Earth Humans should read carefully about what will happen on earth in the not too distant future.

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