Asteroid Apophis approaches Earth, scientists have their eyes set

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 13, 2021, 01:08 PM(IST)

Representative image of a near-Earth asteroid Photograph:( Twitter )

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It may scare you to know that another close approach is scheduled to take place this year. Next month to be precise..

Asteroids are beautiful things as long as they put on a stellar show while burning to dust in Earth's atmosphere. Asteroids that are a bit bigger leave space rocks on Earths surface for scientists to study. Anything bigger than that, well, ask dinosaurs what happens when such a thing strikes the Earth.

An asteroid by the name of Apophis is approaching our home planet. Apophis is the Egyptian God of chaos and darkness. Anything named after such a deity is surely not going to be anything sweet. On top of it, it's an asteroid.

Apophis, known officially as  99942 Apophis (2004 MN4) is three football-fields wide. It may appear to be small given how huge Earth is. But remember, asteroids zap around in space at speeds of thousands of kms an hour. And that's why if any of the astroids strikes the Earth, the explosion would be comparable to one caused by several exploding atomic bombs.

Apophis is going to have a very close flyby past Earth in 2029. At its closest point, Apophis will be at an altitude of some of our artificial satellites. Previously, Apophis had a 3 per cent chance of hitting the Earth. This again may sound pretty small a number. But for a space body as large as Apophis, this is a terrifying figure.

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Fortunately, scientists have now able to determine that Apophis will not hit the Earth 2029.

But while 2029 seems a bit away, it may scare you to know that another close approach is scheduled to take place this year. Next month to be precise.

Apophis will fly by Earth on March 5, 2021. This time though it will be at a much greater distance away from Earth than its approach scheduled to take place in 2029.

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But both of these events are going to provide scientists with an opportunity to study the trajectory and motion of Apophis. 

Why the study?

Because Apophis will make another close call to Earth in the year 2068 and it will give all of us relief if know 100 per cent that it will not strike the Earth at that time.

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