Massive Apophis asteroid will not hit Earth for 100 years, NASA says

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
Burning asteroid moving through the Earth. Digital illustration.
Calculations show the Apophis asteroid will not hit Earth for 100 years (Digital illustration). (Getty)

The massive Apophis asteroid will not hit Earth for 100 years, Nasa has said.

The space agency has announced new telescope observations that have ruled out any chance of rock hitting us anytime soon.

Apophis, which is 1,100-foot (340-metres), was supposed to come close in 2029 and again in 2036.

NASA ruled out any chance of a strike during those two approaches a while ago.

A potential 2068 collision still loomed, but this has also now been deemed unlikely. 

Watch: Animation of Asteroid Apophis’ 2029 Close Approach with Earth

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Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies said in a statement Friday: “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.”

Thanks to radar observations earlier this month, scientists could refine Apophis' orbit around the sun when the asteroid passed within 10.6 million miles (17 million kilometres).

The space rock will come within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) on April 13, 2029, enabling astronomers to get a good look.

Farnocchia added: “When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids.”

“There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to see it removed from the risk list."

First detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off NASA's asteroid “risk list.”

The space agency’s scientists used a 70-metre (230-foot) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, near Barstow, California, to calculate how close the Apophis asteroid would come.

Goldstone was used together with the 100-metre (330-foot) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

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NASA images showing asteroid Apophis. (NASA)
NASA images showing asteroid Apophis. (NASA)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Marina Brozovic, who led the radar campaign, said: “Although Apophis made a recent close approach with Earth, it was still nearly 10.6 million miles [17 million kilometers] away. Even so, we were able to acquire incredibly precise information about its distance to an accuracy of about 150 meters [490 feet],” said

“This campaign not only helped us rule out any impact risk, it set us up for a wonderful science opportunity.”

Astronomers are still developing a better understanding of the asteroid’s rotation rate and spin state (axis it spins around).

This will allow them to determine its orientation when it encounters Earth's gravitational field in 2029.

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