NASA says asteroid feared to hit Earth no longer a threat

by Jordyn Pair · Mar 30th, 2021 1:59 pm

Last Updated Mar 31st, 2021 at 9:54 pm

An asteroid previously suspected to be in danger of hitting Earth is no longer a threat, NASA announced Friday.

Asteroid 9942 Apophis was identified in 2004 as one of the most hazardous potential asteroids that could hit Earth. Scientists have since gained a greater understanding of both the asteroid and its orbit, leading to them ruling out the possibility of a strike.

"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," said Davide Farnocchia of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The asteroid is an estimated 1,100 feet in diameter and was originally slated to hit the planet in 2029. This later moved to 2036, then 2068, before scientists concluded it would not hit Earth at all.

"With the support of recent optical observations and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in Apophis' orbit has collapsed from hundreds of kilometers to just a handful of kilometers when projected to 2029," Farnocchia said. "This greatly improved knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more certainty of its future motion, so we can now remove Apophis from the risk list."

Apophis is currently expected to pass Earth on April 13, 2029.


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