CONFIRMED: Asteroid travelling at 60 times the speed of sound will harmlessly fly by the earth with scientists preparing for its passing one decade in advance.
On Approximately April 13, 2029, asteroid Apophis will fly by the Earth at a distance of about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers). Excited NASA Scientists are already planning observations and science opportunities for the event.
Even though the asteroid is expected to cruise by the Earth in a decade, the future close encounter is causing so much excitement for scientists that they will discuss everything from potential observation strategies to hypothetical missions that could explore the object itself.
"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," - Marina Brozovic, radar scientist at NASA
Brozovic, who is chairing the meeting, said in a statement. "We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size."
Scientists are exceptionally excited with the asteroid Apophis, named after the ancient Egyptian god of chaos, is because asteroids of this size rarely pass by Earth at such a close distance.
Among the topics set to be discussed at the conference—aside from possible missions—are the potential effects of Earth’s gravity on the asteroid and strategies to learn about the object’s interior.
A young Astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory discovered Apophis in june, 2004 but due to weather problems and technical issues they were only able to track the object for two days. Later that year, an Australian group managed to spot the asteroid again.
Since the rediscovery, scientists have diligently tracked Apophis, and with their data they believe that the object has a incremental chance of striking our planet many decades in the future.
The orbit of Apophis after the 2029 encounter has a higher degree of uncertainty, but one that will be reduced by tracking data collected during the next decade. This is fortunate because if an asteroid of such size were to collide with the Earth, it could cause devastation on a continental scale, although not a global extinction, according to Farnocchia.
"Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. By observing Apophis during its 2029 flyby, we will gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense." - Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS
The chances of a Apophis could collide with the earth in the distant future is about 1 in 100,000, say scientists.