Earlier, NASA said that Apophis – the poster child for “hazardous asteroids” – was no longer deemed a threat for Earth based on a refined estimate of its orbit around the Sun.
Asteroid 99942 Apophis, estimated to measure 340 metres (1,100 ft) across and identified by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth, will close in on our planet in the spring of 2029.
The forecast, issued by the All-Russian Institute for Research of Civil Defence of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia, says that the asteroid will skim past Earth at a distance at which geostationary satellites are placed in orbit (approximately 35,700 km).
The event is predicted to take place shortly after Cosmonautics Day – 13 April 2029. With a diameter of around 400 meters, the space rock will be hurtling past with an estimated velocity of 7.42 kilometres per second.
According to experts’ calculations, if the asteroid were to directly impact Earth, the released energy would amount to 1,717 megatons – 30 times that of the Soviet thermonuclear bomb, tested in 1961.
“The earthquake within a radius of ten kilometres from the site of impact may reach 6.5 points on the Richter scale, with wind speed of at least 790 meters per second,” says the forecast.
After its discovery in 2004, asteroid 99942 Apophis had been identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could potentially hit Earth.
However, the impact assessment changed as astronomers tracked Apophis using the 70-metre (230-foot) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex near Barstow, California.
The US space agency NASA confirmed in 2021 that Earth was deemed “safe” from the space traveller for the next 100 years at least.
“A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility any more, and our calculations don’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years,” Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies said in a statement last year.
NASA confirmed that on 13 April 2029, the asteroid Apophis will pass less than 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) from Earth’s surface, which is closer than the distance of geosynchronous satellites.
NASA added that Apophis, named after the ancient Egyptian god of darkness, chaos and destruction will be visible to observers on the ground in the Eastern Hemisphere without the aid of a telescope or binoculars.