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Will an asteroid collide with Earth in 2029?  An animation shows the result – it has appeared

Will an asteroid collide with Earth in 2029? An animation shows the result – it has appeared

As it does every eight years on average, asteroid 99942 Apophis will pass by Earth in April 2029, and because of the (unfounded) risk of colliding with our planet, it always causes a lot of buzz on social media. This time, it was due to an animation recently shared on Facebook by the Cosmoknowledge page.

The animation is a diagram of the next passage of the so-called doomsday asteroid, which will reach its maximum point on April 13, 2029, when, according to NASA, it will be 32,000 kilometers from the Earth's surface. Closer than some geostationary satellites, the object can be seen with the naked eye, but only in the Eastern Hemisphere.

In fact, NASA says, there is not the slightest risk that the 340-meter-long asteroid will hit our planet, not in five years, nor on the next approach in 2036. However, as the shared video shows a clear impact path, it ends… It leads to what is known as “flea behind the ear.”

Image: Disclosure

Recalibrating NASA's asteroid calculations

When it is said that the asteroid will pass close to Earth, this is in cosmic terms, not in everyday Earth distances. Although there was an estimate that a real collision could occur in 2068, NASA astronomers recalibrated their calculations during the last flyby of Apophis in 2021, and radar observations showed no risk of collision “for at least the next 100 years.”

If there is no risk, at least not yet, of Apophis colliding with Earth, that does not mean that there is not great scientific interest. Therefore, NASA's Small Object Assessment Group (SBAG) recommended that the agency send a spacecraft to visit the asteroid before it approaches our planet in 2029.

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NASA will send a probe to Apophis

“At the meeting, held in July 2023, the minutes of which were recently published on Space Policy Online, SBAG encouraged NASA to pursue a mission opportunity, achievable within available resources, to explore Apophis prior to its close approach to Earth.”

Hence, the OSIRIS-REx probe, which collected material from the asteroid Bennu in 2020 and delivered samples to Earth in September last year, is expected to begin an expanded mission on Apophis. Changing its name to OSIRIS-APEX (the initials of Apophis

SBAG says that the data obtained “will provide a full realization of this remarkable opportunity to determine and understand the consequences of planetary tides on the evolution of asteroids in real time and to collect important information about the internal structure of Apophis.”