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Apophis Asteroid Not a Danger but ‘A real chance’ for Study

By Jack Phillips & Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 8, 2011 Last Updated: February 14, 2011
Related articles: Science » Space & Astronomy
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An artist's conception of a giant asteroid hitting the early earth. (Courtesy of NASA)

An artist's conception of a giant asteroid hitting the early earth. (Courtesy of NASA)

Russian scientists last week said that the Apophis asteroid may collide with the earth in 2036, but a report came out this week which said the chance of it striking the earth is highly unlikely.

And, if the object gets close enough, it would be a good research opportunity, a space scientist told the International Business Times.

Apophis, at its closest point in 2029, will be at least 18,300 miles away from the Earth. Dan Durda, a scientist with the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, told the Times that he submitted a proposal to NASA to send a spacecraft to the asteroid and learn more about it.

"It's a real chance to study this kind of object," Durda told the publication.

Durda added that a mission to probe the asteroid would have to be launched in 2021 due to Apophis’s tilted orbit.

Real Danger?

Life’s Little Mysteries, sister site of Space.com, reported that there is just a 1-in-250,000 chance that the object, which is around 900-feet-long, will strike the earth in 25 years, citing NASA scientists.

In 2029, Apophis will fly close to the Earth and “will be quite an event.” However, the possibility of it striking the earth has been “ruled out,” Donald Yeomans, the chief of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office told Life’s Little Mysteries.

But if the asteroid goes through “what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Yeomans said, adding that the chances of entering this gravitational “keyhole” is “miniscule,” Space reported.

Professor Leonid Sokolov at St. Petersburg State University told the publication Science it is unlikely that Apophis will hit Earth because the asteroid will probably break up into fragments before then .




   

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