NASA recently confirmed that our planet is safe from a worrisome asteroid for at least a century, which means earthlings can rejoice. The asteroid, 99942 Apophis (named after the Egyptian god of destruction), was discovered in 2004 and was identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth. However, precise orbit analysis, combined with results from a new radar observation campaign, helped astronomers conclude that Apophis won’t hit Earth in 2068.

When Apophis flew by Earth in early March 2021, NASA scientists took the opportunity to refine the estimate of its orbit around the Sun with extreme precision. JPL scientist Marina Brozovic, who led the radar campaign, said, “Although Apophis made a recent close approach with Earth, it was still nearly 10.6 million miles away. Even so, we were able to acquire incredibly precise information about its distance to an accuracy of about 150 meters [490 feet]. This campaign not only helped us rule out any impact risk, it set us up for a wonderful science opportunity.”

NASA says Apophis will pass less than 20,000 miles from Earth’s surface on April 13, 2029. NASA believes this will be a great chance for astronomers to get a closer view of a solar system relic. About this, Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies said, “When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to see it removed from the risk list, and we’re looking forward to the science we might uncover during its close approach in 2029.” During the close approach, observers on the ground in the Eastern Hemisphere will be able to view Apophis without the help of binoculars or a telescope. 

It sounds like we’ll get a brilliant night sky-watching opportunity in eight years!

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