According to recent estimates by NASA scientists, the asteroid Apophis will approach Earth as close as possible on April 13, 2029. On this day, an asteroid with a diameter of more than 300 meters will enter low Earth orbit.
Why is Apophis dangerous for the Earth?
Asteroid Apophis was discovered on June 19, 2004, by two American scientists, Roy Tucker and David Tholen. At first, NASA believed that Apophis could fall to Earth in 2029, but later the asteroid’s trajectory was revised and came to different conclusions.
Observations of the asteroid using the Herschel space telescope allowed astrophysicists to calculate its size.
So, the diameter of Apophis is about 325-340 meters. The weight of the asteroid is about 280 million tons.
What is the danger of the asteroid Apophis?
By studying the trajectory of the asteroid’s motion, astronomers calculated that the approach of Apophis to the Earth’s orbit would occur on April 13, 2029. After that, the asteroid can change the trajectory.
According to NASA scientists, at this time, Apophis will come as close to Earth orbit as possible. And its average speed can reach 21,000-30,000 Km/hr.
This speed, as well as the dimensions of the asteroid, can be dangerous for the Earth, especially if it changes the trajectory of motion and crashes into it. A collision with the asteroid threatens Earth with the death of all life on the planet.
Also, according to the calculations of astrophysicists, Apophis, moving along its trajectory, can affect the sphere of geostationary satellites 36,000 Km from the Earth.
Besides, an asteroid can significantly approach the gravity well, a place where the Earth’s gravitational field can capture objects flying by or affect the trajectory of their movement.
How do scientists plan to save the Earth from Apophis?
Scientists from MIT have developed possible scenarios for the development of events, such as changing the flight path of Apophis and its collision with the Earth.
At the same time, experts currently offer two options for saving our planet from the approaching asteroid.
So, according to the first option, it is proposed to launch a nuclear bomb into space, which will blow up Apophis. But then the Earth will be covered with debris full of radiation.
Also, scientists are considering the option of sending a missile, in the collision with which Apophis will change its trajectory.
However, both of these plans are currently not complete, since accurate information about the composition, mass, and density of the asteroid is not enough.
To collect all the necessary data, scientists may need from 3 to 5 years.