Planet-destroying asteroid Apophis is hurtling towards Earth and will put NASA’s Dart to the test
Ayaan Paul Jan 27, 2023 | 14:08
The likelihood of an asteroid hitting Earth in the next hundred years is a topic of much debate among scientists. While it is difficult to predict with certainty as to when and where an asteroid will hit, there is one particularly fearsome asteroid which has had the scientists go jittery.
One important factor to consider is the number of known asteroids that are on a collision course with Earth. According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), there are currently 1,913 known asteroids that have been classified as “potentially hazardous” due to their proximity to Earth and their size. Of these, approximately 20% are considered to have a significant likelihood of hitting Earth in the next hundred years.
The most formidable example of an asteroid that has a significant likelihood of hitting Earth in the next hundred years is asteroid Apophis.
Named after the Egyptian deity that is “chaos incarnate”, the asteroid, which is estimated to be around 1,000 feet in diameter, was first discovered in 2004 and is considered to be a “potentially hazardous asteroid.” According to CNEOS, Apophis has a 1 in 150,000 chance of hitting Earth in the year 2068.
First discovered in 2004 by astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, the asteroid has a diameter of approximately 340 metres, making it one of the largest near-Earth asteroids that has been discovered to date.
Apophis has a very unusual orbit that brings it incredibly close to the Earth, with a minimum distance of just 31,300 kilometres (19,460 miles) during its next flyby in 2029. This is roughly a tenth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and it is close enough to be visible to the naked eye.
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