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Asteroid Apophis Could One Day Hit Earth. Here’s How We Could Get to It First

Asteroid Apophis (circled). The streaks are background stars.

Asteroid Apophis (circled). The streaks are background stars.
Image: UH/IA/NASA

The clock is officially ticking.

Apophis—an asteroid as wide as three football fields—has a slim chance of slamming into Earth in 2068. Before then, however, the object is scheduled to zip past us in an encounter that scientists are already planning to exploit. Here are some intriguing ways in which we could explore Apophis during its next close approach in 2029.

In just nine years, potentially hazardous asteroid 99942 Apophis will come to within 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) of our planet. At one-tenth the distance between Earth and the Moon, that’s a close shave by any measure, and an exceptionally rare occurrence for an asteroid of this size—it’ll actually be visible to the naked eye. Current estimates place the mean width of the object at roughly 1,100 feet (350 meters). The 2029 close approach is considered a once-in-a-thousand-year

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Scientists can’t rule out giant asteroid Apophis impacting Earth in 2068

In a year of so much catastrophe and stress, it’s no wonder so many people have been fixating on asteroids and whether they might strike Earth. That worry is projecting into the future as we look at welcoming massive asteroid Apophis to our neighborhood.



a close up of a rock: A general representation of what an asteroid looks like. NASA/JPL-Caltech


© Provided by CNET
A general representation of what an asteroid looks like. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Apophis is set to make a series of visits over the coming decades, but the one that’s led to some breathless headlines at the moment is an anticipated close approach in 2068. The asteroid is estimated to be over 1,000 feet (300 meters) in size. That’s like having the Eiffel Tower fly through space.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA) announced the detection of a phenomenon called Yarkovsky acceleration on the asteroid. “This acceleration arises from an extremely weak force on an object due to non-uniform thermal radiation,”

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Apophis asteroid might be more likely to strike Earth in 2068 than thought

New study of Apophis asteroid suggests it might be more likely to strike Earth in 2068 than thought
DAMIT model of Apophis generated from light curve. This assumes that all areas of the asteroid have a similar albedo and reflectivity. Credit: Astronomical Institute of the Charles University: Josef Ďurech, Vojtěch Sidorin, CC BY 4.0

David Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, recently reported on the status of asteroid Apophis during a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. During his presentation, he outlined research he and his team conducted regarding the path of the asteroid and the likelihood that it will strike Earth.


The asteroid Apophis was first spotted by astronomers back in 2004. Shortly thereafter, researchers worked out its orbital path and found that the 340-meter-wide asteroid would pass near to the Earth in 2029 and again in 2068. More study showed that there was little chance of the asteroid striking Earth; thus, it was discounted as a threat. More recently,

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Asteroid Ryugu: The spinning space rock visited by Hayabusa2

Asteroid 162173 Ryugu is a diamond-shaped space rock visited by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2, which took a sample from the asteroid’s surface to return to Earth. This material will help scientists better understand the origins of the solar system and, possibly, life on our planet. 

Ryugu was discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project, a collaborative, U.S.-based project to catalogue and track space rocks. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, estimates the asteroid to be about 2,952 feet (900 meters) in diameter (other scientists have calculated the asteroid to be slightly smaller). Ryugu is orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars and occasionally crosses Earth’s orbit, which means the space rock is classified as “potentially hazardous,” though the body poses no imminent danger to our world. As it soars through space, the asteroid spins around like a top, rotating every 7.6 hours, according to JAXA. 

The asteroid’s

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Massive asteroid Apophis might threaten Earth in 2068, but don’t freak out

In a year of catastrophe and stress, it’s no wonder so many people have been fixating on asteroids and whether they might strike Earth. That worry is projecting into the future as we look ahead at welcoming asteroid Apophis to our neighborhood.



a close up of a rock: A general representation of what an asteroid looks like. NASA/JPL-Caltech


© Provided by CNET
A general representation of what an asteroid looks like. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Apophis is set to make a series of visits over the coming decades, but the one that’s led to some breathless headlines at the moment is an anticipated close approach in 2068. The asteroid is estimated to be over 1,000 feet (300 meters) in size. That’s like having the Eiffel Tower fly through space.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA) announced the detection of a phenomenon called Yarkovsky acceleration on the asteroid. “This acceleration arises from an extremely weak force on an object due to non-uniform thermal radiation,” the university

Read More

Asteroid Apophis is speeding up as scientists recalculate odds of 2068 impact

Astronomers say they’ll have to keep an eye on the near-Earth asteroid Apophis to see how much of a danger the space rock poses to our planet during a close pass in 2068. But don’t panic: The chances of an impact still seem very low. 



background pattern: ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory captured asteroid Apophis in its field of view during the approach to Earth on January, 5-6, 2013. This image shows the asteroid in Herschel’s three PACS wavelengths: 70, 100 and 160 microns.


© Provided by Live Science
ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory captured asteroid Apophis in its field of view during the approach to Earth on January, 5-6, 2013. This image shows the asteroid in Herschel’s three PACS wavelengths: 70, 100 and 160 microns.

Under certain circumstances, the sun can heat an asteroid unevenly, causing the space rock to radiate away heat energy asymmetrically. The result can be a tiny push in a certain direction — an effect called Yarkovsky acceleration, which can change the path of an asteroid through space.

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Since astronomers hadn’t measured this solar push on Apophis before, they didn’t take it into

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The asteroid NASA just landed on turns out to be hollow, with a large ‘void’ at its center. It may be spinning itself to death.



A rotating mosaic of asteroid Bennu, composed of images captured by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft over a four-hour period on December 2, 2018. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona


© NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
A rotating mosaic of asteroid Bennu, composed of images captured by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft over a four-hour period on December 2, 2018. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The asteroid Bennu just keeps getting more bizarre.

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When NASA decided to send a probe to land on a space rock and bring back samples, it picked Bennu for its seemingly smooth surface — perfect landing ground. But once the Osiris-Rex spacecraft had made the 200-million-mile journey to Bennu, the images it beamed back revealed a landscape covered in boulders and rock fields.

NASA eventually chose the flattest spot it could find to land, and the touch-and-go operation to scoop up material went smoothly last month. But then came the next surprise: Bennu’s rock turned out to be incredibly soft, crumbling under the spacecraft as it touched the surface.

The probe fired a blast of nitrogen to send rock

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An asteroid trailing after Mars could actually be the stolen twin of our moon

The asteroid in question, called (101429) 1998 VF31, is part of a group of trojan asteroids sharing the orbit of Mars.



a group of people on a beach: The Clavius crater on the moon as seen by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The SOFIA observatory has detected water ice in shadowed regions of this sunlit lunar location.


© Provided by Live Science
The Clavius crater on the moon as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The SOFIA observatory has detected water ice in shadowed regions of this sunlit lunar location.

Trojans are celestial bodies that fall into gravitationally balanced regions of space in the vicinity of other planets, located 60 degrees in front of and behind the planet.

Most of the trojan asteroids we know about share Jupiter’s orbit, but other planets have them too, including Mars and Earth too.

What makes (101429) 1998 VF31 (hereafter ‘101429’) interesting is that among the Red Planet’s trailing trojans (the ones that follow behind Mars as it orbits the Sun), 101429 appears to be unique.

The rest of the group, called the L5 Martian Trojans, all belong to

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590-Foot Asteroid Makes Earth Close Approach Friday, 282-Foot NEO To Follow

KEY POINTS

  • Two giant asteroids included in the ESA’s Risk List will fly by Earth this weekend
  • Asteroid 2020 TY1 is nearly as tall as the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, at 590 feet
  • Asteroid 2019 XS measures 282 feet across and will zip by Earth Saturday

Two giant asteroids are expected to make their close approaches to the Earth just a few days after Election Day. The near-Earth asteroids (NEA) are estimated to be as massive as Seattle’s Space Needle and the Statue of Liberty.

Just minutes before Friday ends, a 590-foot asteroid will be zipping by Earth. The NEA, called 2020 TY1, will be making its way toward the planet’s vicinity at 11:37 p.m. EST at a speed of 8 miles per second, according to data compiled by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Asteroid 2020 TY1 will be flying by the planet at a distance of 

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Astronomers surprised by asteroid trailing Mars that’s a ‘dead-ringer’ for the moon

An asteroid that follows Mars around sure looks an awful lot like parts of the moon.


NASA

Trojan asteroids share the same orbital path as certain planets, either leading ahead of the planet or trailing behind. Jupiter is famous for its many Trojans, but Mars has a few of them as well. One of these Martian companions — asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 — could be a stunt double for our own moon.

A team led by researchers at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) in Northern Ireland took a close look at asteroid 101429’s composition and drew some fascinating connections to our lunar neighbor in a study set for the January 2021 issue of the journal Icarus and published online August 1.

The planetary scientists used the X-shooter spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory’s

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