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Asteroid size of Empire State Building won’t hit Earth for another 100 years
March 27, 2021
NASA says the fearsome "God of Chaos" asteroid won't hit Earth for another 100 years.
The US space agency ruled out the 1,115ft peanut-shaped space rock smashing into our planet and causing a blast equivalent to 880 million tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) exploding all at once in 2068.
Dr Davide Farnocchia, of NASA's center for near-Earth object studies, said in a statement: “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.”
The asteroid is named after the Greek god of chaos, Apophis, and has been tracked by astronomers since its discovery in 2004.
It makes the round trip around the Sun every 324 days but has a wobbly orbit which could see it one day collide with Earth.
Dr Dave Tholen, 65, who helped discover it, gave it a one in 380,000 chance of smashing into Earth in 2068 after it swept past us at a distance of 10.6m miles earlier this month.
New radar data has ruled the possibility out, said NASA, with Apophis set to come within 20,000 miles of Earth on Friday 13 April 2029, allowing astronomers to get an even better look at it.
The Mail Online reports NASA scientist Marina Brozović, who led the radar campaign, said: "Although Apophis made a recent close approach with Earth, it was still nearly 10.6 million miles [17 million kilometers] away. Even so, we were able to acquire incredibly precise information about its distance to an accuracy of about 150 meters [490 feet].
"This campaign not only helped us rule out any impact risk, it set us up for a wonderful science opportunity."
Apophis put space scientists on high alert following its discovery.
They feared that the 1,200ft asteroid had a nearly 1-in-30 chance of hitting Earth in 2029 and also in 2036 before both were later ruled out by NASA.
Scientists have kept a close eye on the the asteroid ever since. It is known as a stony space rock which means it is made of silicon and oxygen-based materials and includes a mix of nickel and iron.
A statement from the space agency said: "Like all asteroids, Apophis is a remnant from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
"It originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Over millions of years, its orbit was changed primarily by the gravitational influence of large planets like Jupiter so that it now orbits the Sun closer to Earth."