NASA prepares for the near passage of the Apophis asteroid

May 3, 2019, 3:05 pm

Varun K.

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In less than 10 years, specifically on April 13, 2029, the date estimated by NASA for an asteroid 1,115 feet wide may pass very close to Earth, but without impact. This space body, named as Apophis in honor of an Egyptian God of Death, will approach 19,000 miles from our planet, a very close distance that represents a special moment for astronomers.

Even NASA described this as “an incredible opportunity for science“. This was stated by Marina Brozovi, a scientist working at the  Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the US space agency. Apophis was discovered in 2004 by a team from the National Observatory of Kitt Peak (Arizona, USA). The Space Agency created a video in which it shows the path that the asteroid will make when it passes through the Earth.

In fact, during the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference held in Maryland, the observation plans and scientific opportunities of a celestial event began to be discussed for which there is still a decade to go. In addition, the possibility of sending a mission to the asteroid was raised.

According to NASA, such a large object passing close to Earth is a relatively rare phenomenon. At first glance, Apophis will be visualized as a bright point of light.

As the asteroid passes over the Atlantic Ocean, its trajectory changes briefly from red to gray, that is the moment of closest approach. After reaching its closest point, the asteroid will move towards the daytime sky and will no longer be visible. – NASA

“By observing Apophis during its flyby in 2029, we will gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense,” added Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Studies.

Apophis is one of the approximately 2,000 potentially dangerous asteroids known today. However, the possibility of it coming dangerously close ” is a threat that could happen, although it is very unlikely, ” reassured NPR network Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Objective Studies at NASA.

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