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NASA: Asteroids may still hit the Earth in 2068



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Throughout history, the Earth has been bombarded by space rocks, but we are lucky that no large planet has hit the Earth recently. Astronomers will carefully observe the sky, hoping to spot potential impactors as soon as possible so that we can do something, and one of the most worrying objects is 99942 Apophis. According to the latest analysis by the University of Hawaii and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this skyscraper-sized asteroid may still strike the Earth in 2068.

Scientists discovered Apophis in 2004, and when preliminary observations revealed that it had a 2.4% chance of hitting the Earth in 2029, the alarm was issued. Fortunately, further research reduced the probability of Apophis to zero. However, since then, astronomers have been paying attention to Apophis-currently, it is considered the third largest impact threat to the Earth, after 101955 Bennu and 29075 (1950 DA). However, the greatest impact risk of these objects has disappeared for centuries.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Sentinel Risk Chart shows that by 2068, Apophis has a 1 in 150,000 chance of hitting the Earth, but this does not take into account the so-called Yakovsky effect. As the asteroids roll in space, they absorb the energy of the sun. The energy is radiated back to space in the form of heat, but the process is not uniform across the entire surface of the object. The result is a small but measurable thrust that changes the trajectory of the object. NASA’s Davide Farnocchia and University of Hawaii’s Dave Tholen used Subaru telescope data to try to determine that the Yarkovsky effect changed our odds.

This is our best guess about the shape of Apophis.

Tholen said that the real risk of impact may be close to one in 530,000, which is a figure used by NEODyS to impact monitoring services, including the Yarkovsky effect. The new observations may push NASA’s Sentry risk to a similarly low level. So yes, Apophis may be less likely to hit the Earth within a few decades, but astronomers will need to monitor its orbit over time to ensure its operation. The possibility that Apophis will still be captured by the earth’s gravity in 2068 is still very non-zero.

You don’t want to take any risks with objects like Apophis. Although it is not a “mass extinction”, the impact will be catastrophic. This is a simple physical problem-Apophis’ impact on the Earth will cause an explosion equivalent to 1,151 megatons of TNT. In comparison, the largest nuclear weapon in human history is about 57 megatons. The Kakatoa volcano erupted in 1883 with about 200 megatons. The Apophis might razor a small country, cause huge waves, and cause widespread wildfires. All in all, it is a bad day for the planet.

If Apophis encounters a collision, astronomers should be able to tell us in advance. Maybe it’s even too early to try one of those asteroid deflection systems in the sky that we have been hearing about.

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