Asteroid Apophis Is The Latest ‘Doomsday Asteroid,’ Could It Hit Earth In 2036?

  @CharlieAllDayc.poladian@ibtimes.com on October 20 2013 1:39 PM

After the scare over asteroid 2013 TV135 earlier this week, there may be a new “doomsday asteroid” that could hit Earth in 2036, following a close encounter in 2029.

The recently discovered asteroid 2013 TV135, with an estimated diameter of 400 meters, was deemed a doomsday asteroid after the Ukrainian observatory that discovered it projected a collision course with Earth in 2032. While there was some worry about an impending apocalypse scenario, most scientists quickly dismissed any notion that the asteroid could hit Earth.

With NASA debunking the threat of asteroid 2013 TV135, another asteroid was designated a new threat to the survival of humanity. Asteroid Apophis, also known as 99942 Apophis, was first discovered in 2004 and there were projections of a close call with Earth in 2029 and an even closer approach in 2036. Apophis is smaller than asteroid 2013 TV135, measuring 210-330 meters in diameter, but will be passing within 20,000 miles of Earth, a “1-in-800-year event,” according to NASA. There has been an increased amount of activity for "Aapophis Asteroid" in the wake of the news of asteroid 2013 TV135.

The preliminary estimate of Apophis striking Earth in 2029 was set at 2.7 percent but later observations ruled out any chance of an impact, reports NASA. The potential for Apophis to hit Earth in 2036 relied on an incredibly precise orbit of Earth, passing Earth at approximately 18,893 miles. The asteroid would enter a “gravity keyhole,” that would alter the trajectory of Apophis just enough that when it next passed Earth, on April 13, 2036, it would collide with our planet, reports Popular Mechanics.

After adjustment, NASA indicated a 1 in 45,000 chance of a collision in 2036, and in January effectively ruled out the possibility the asteroid would hit Earth. According to NASA, “The impact odds as they stand now are less than one in a million, which makes us comfortable saying we can effectively rule out an Earth impact in 2036. Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future.”

Apophis will be the first such object to be visible with the naked eye as it passes Earth in 2029. In May, a 1.7 mile-wide asteroid, 1998 QE2, passed Earth at a safe distance of 3.8 million miles while in February, asteroid 2012 DA14 was just 17,200 miles away, much closer than the projected course of Apophis.

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