NASA has given Earth the all-clear for the next century dismissing the threat from a particularly menacing asteroid

NASA has given Earth the all-clear for the next century, dismissing the threat from a particularly menacing asteroid.

Key points:

  • First detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off NASA’s asteroid “risk list”
  • Scientists were able to refine Apophis’ orbit around the sun thanks to radar observations
  • Apophis will come within 32,000 kilometres on April 13, 2029, enabling astronomers to get a good look

The space agency announced this week that new telescope observations had ruled out any chance of Apophis smacking into Earth in 2068.

That’s the same 340-metre space rock that was supposed to come frighteningly close in 2029 and again in 2036.

NASA ruled out any chance of a strike during those two close approaches a while ago, but a potential 2068 collision still loomed.Planet Earth pictured against a black sky as seen from the command module of the Apollo 17 moon mission in 1972

First detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off NASA’s asteroid “risk list.”

“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,” Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a statement.

Scientists were able to refine Apophis’ orbit around the sun thanks to radar observations earlier this month, when the asteroid passed within 17 million kilometres.

Apophis will come within 32,000 kilometres on April 13, 2029, enabling astronomers to get a good look.

“When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids,” Farnocchia said.

“There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to see it removed from the risk list.”

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