Daily US Times: Earthlings can breathe a sigh of relief after Nasa confirmed the planet was “safe” from a once-feared asteroid for at least the next 100 years.
Nasa had feared Apophis to be one of the most dangerous asteroids to Earth after its discovery in 2004.
There were close calls in 2029 and 2036 predicted but later ruled out. A slight threat still remained for the year of 2068.
But now Nasa has dismissed the threat based on new analysis of the asteroid.
In a statement on Friday, Davide Farnocchia, a scientist who studies near-Earth objects for Nasa, said: “A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility any more, and our calculations don’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.”
Named after the ancient Egyptian god of darkness and chaos, Apophis is estimated to measure 340m across – about the length of three UK football pitches.
The asteroid recently made a distant flyby of Earth on March 5, passing within 17 million km of the planet.
Astronomers were able to use radar observations to refine their estimate of the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun, which convinced them to confidently rule out any impact risk in 2068 and long after.
Mr Farnocchia said: “When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids,” adding that “There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to see it removed from the risk list.”
The scientist said Nasa was “looking forward to the science we might uncover during its close approach in 2029”.
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