asteroid

Russian scientists held a meeting 14 months ago to look at launching an operation to knock the Apophis asteroid off course

An asteroid travelling at 23,000mph could crash into Earth on April 13, 2036 killing millions and causing global chaos, scientists claim.  In a plot line taken straight from a science-fiction film, astronomers in Russia are predicting that the 300-yard-wide Apophis will slam into the planet in 25 years’ time.

 

But don’t panic just yet, as it is extremely unlikely to happen.

So unlikely, in fact, that Nasa has given the catastrophic event odds of 250,000-to-one that it actually takes place.

First, the comet must pass through a narrow gravitational keyhole – a small region in space that alters the course of a passing asteroid due to Earth’s gravity – in April 2029 before it can be on course to collide seven years later.

The force of Earth’s gravity is so great that if the asteroid goes through the hole its path could be ‘tweaked’ – sending it straight towards us.

Donald Yeomans, head of Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program office, said there is a remote chance the asteroid could collide with Earth.

‘The situation is that in 2029, on April 13, Apophis flies very close to Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,’ he told Life’s Little Mysteries.

‘On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach… then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036.’

Although Russian scientists are predicting the asteroid may strike earth in 2036, Mr Yeomans said it is highly unlikely.

Professor Leonid Sokolov of the St Petersburg State University told the RiaNovosti website: ‘Apophis will approach Earth at a distance of 37,000-38,000 kilometres (per hour) on April 13, 2029.

‘Its likely collision with Earth may occur on April 13, 2036. Our task is to consider various alternatives and develop scenarios and plans of action depending on the results of further observations of Apophis.’

Russian scientists held a meeting 14 months ago to look at launching an operation to knock the asteroid off path.

However, U.S. scientists have estimated the actual chance of it happening is one in 250,000. Although it is big enough to cause a lot of damage to the planet it would not bring about the Armageddon.

If it is discovered that Apophis is on course to crash into the earth, Nasa would attempt to take evasive action to change its path. The easiest way of doing this would be to crash an unmanned spaceship into the asteroid

Just last Friday, Asteroid 2011 CQ1 shot over the Pacific at just 3,400 miles above the Earth’s surface.

In July 2005, Nasa deliberately crashed its Deep Impact probe into comet Tempel 1 in an operation to study the interior of a comet. The mission revealed that a comet’s nucleus is more dusty and less icy than had previously been believed.

Via Daily Mail

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