Asteroid 99942 Apophis to buzz Earth at a distance closer than Satellites; know date

Amazingly, Asteroid 99942 Apophis will come closer to Earth than many satellites orbiting the planet! Here’s what NASA said.

| Updated on: Jan 05 2023, 12:17 IST
Asteroid 99942 Apophis
Asteroid Apophis is nearly the size of a skyscraper. (NASA JPL)
Asteroid 99942 Apophis
Asteroid Apophis is nearly the size of a skyscraper. (NASA JPL)

Although asteroids frequently make close trips to Earth, they pass the planet at a distance of hundreds of thousands of kilometers, at the very least. Despite the relatively close distance of approach, these space rocks very rarely pose any risk to Earth. However, this does not mean no asteroid will ever come close to Earth. In fact, over Earth's history, there have been so many asteroid strikes. In fact, NASA and other space agencies have kept a watchful eye on a particular asteroid which was previously considered as a big threat to Earth.

This asteroid is named 99942 Apophis and given the designation Asteroid 2004 MN4 by NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. Though this asteroid previously made a close approach to Earth in 2021, it did so at a relatively safe distance of 1.9 million kilometers. When this asteroid was discovered in 2004, it was identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth due to its humongous size-approximately 1100 feet!

But that impact assessment changed after astronomers tracked Apophis and its orbit became better determined, according to NASA.

Asteroid 99942 Apophis close approach

According to NASA, the Asteroid 99942 Apophis will make an extremely close trip to Earth on April 13, 2029. On that day, this space rock will come as close as 38000 kilometers to Earth. This is closer than many geostationary satellites orbiting the planet. It will do so travelling at an approximate speed of 26712 kilometers per hour, which is nearly twice as fast as a hypersonic ballistic missile!

Asteroid 99942 Apophis potential impact

The asteroid's risk of potential impact in 2029 was ruled out by scientists, though 2036 and 2068 impacts remained a worry. The asteroid's 2021 trip to Earth proved useful for scientists as they used powerful radar observations to extensively study the asteroid's orbit and trajectory. Now, it has been declared that Asteroid 99942 Apophis is not expected to impact Earth's surface for at least a century.

According to Davide Farnocchia of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, “A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility anymore, and our calculations don't show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.”

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First Published Date: 05 Jan, 12:16 IST
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