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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Asteroid Apophis' Collision with Earth Unlikely, Scientist Says

Goldstone radar images of asteroid Apophis. Credit: JPL

The rapprochement of the asteroid Apophis with the Earth expected in 2068 will pose practically no risks to the planet, if only no significant changes in its orbit occur by then, senior research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy Institute, Sergei Naroyenkov, said in a video uploaded to the YouTube page of Roscosmos’s TV studio on Friday.

"The media speculated recently that a collision is likely in 2068. I’m fully certain that no collision will occur then. The risk of collision with Apophis will remain tiny for one hundred years to come," Naroyenkov said.

However, he believes that Apophis’s orbit may change somewhat after 2029, when the asteroid will come close to the Earth again.

"In 2029, Apophis will pass 38,000 kilometers away from the Earth. The latest data we have at our disposal were obtained in 2015. After 2029 we will see how significantly its orbit has changed after the rapprochement with the Earth. Then it will be possible to make forecasts regarding the asteroid’s future," Naroyenkov said.

Earlier, scientists at the St. Petersburg State University said in a report Apophis might collide with the Earth in 2068. They believe this might happen if the asteroid followed a trajectory lying 44 million kilometers from the Earth in 2044, 0.76 million kilometers in 2051 and 5 million kilometers in 2060.

In 2006, leading research fellow of the M.V. Keldysh Applied Mathematics Institute, Vyacheslav Ivashkin, and assistant at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Kirill Stikhno, modelled the effects of Apophis’s impact on the Earth. The asteroid’s diameter was then estimated at 270 meters. It was forecast that the asteroid would leave a six-kilometer crater and cause the collapse of buildings and cracks in the Earth’s surface. Researchers are now certain that the diameter of Apophis is greater than 300 meters.

In August 2017, Paul Chodas, Manager of JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies said that Apophis has one in 100,000 chance of hitting Earth over the next century.

Credit: TASS

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