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Adophis Asteroid Could hit earth in 2036

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM
  • 5 Replies

Apophis Asteroid is back in the news after a Russian report concluded it could hit Earth in 2036. They even have a date for the potential impact.

"It's likely collision with Earth may occur on April 13, 2036," Professor Leonid Sokolov of St. Petersburg State University concluded, according to UPI, which also reports an unrelated 4-foot-wide asteroid passed by Earth this week.

Sokolov says while the chances for impact are slim, it's important to plan for all possible scenarios, per Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. He added the asteroid is most likely to disintegrate into smaller parts that could collide with Earth in following years.

The Apophis Asteroid made headlines in 2009 when scientists predicted a greater than 2 percent chance of impact.

NASA scientists are cautious about the prospect.

"Technically, they're correct, there is a chance in 2036 [that Apophis will hit Earth]," said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office. But that chance is just 1-in-250,000, Yeomans added.

But they don't say what the actual impact (no pun intended) would be... still, interesting.

I am a: vaccinating; pro-choice; organic food eating; full-time working; single mom

toddler girl


by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM
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by "Dude!" on Feb. 9, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Ha! I think I like you. Serious note, I was reading about this earlier today. What would we actually as a planet do if this were going to hit?
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by Cat on Feb. 9, 2011 at 10:19 PM

I know! They talk about when it will hit - but what would happen if it did hit?  Would it be like Deep Impact or Armegedon?  Or would it be one of those - oh look at the pretty lights in the sky! type of deals?   Is it a huge, mile wide asteroid that would be a life-ender?  I'm going to have to go digging on NASA's website.

I bet they save all the rich people and all the politicians.  And maybe a Harvard or Yaley or two. 

by Cat on Feb. 9, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Okay - still an intersting article, but I think whoever wrote the first article didn't really read the NASA website information.  Granted astrophysics is complicated, but their web writer did a fairly good job of distilling information into actual Engrish! : ) 

From NASA Website -

Upon its discovery in 2004, Apophis was briefly estimated to have a 2.7% chance of impacting the Earth in 2029. Additional measurements later showed there was no impact risk at that time from the 210-330 meter (690-1080 foot) diameter object, identified spectroscopically as an Sq type similar to LL chondritic meteorites. However, there will be a historically close approach to the Earth, estimated to be a 1 in 800 year event (on average, for an object of that size).

The Arecibo planetary radar telescope subsequently detected the asteroid at distances of 27-40 million km (17-25 million miles; 0.192-0.268 AU) in 2005 and 2006. Polarization ratios indicate Apophis appears to be smoother than most NEAs at 13-cm scales. Including the high precision radar measurements in a new orbit solution reduced the uncertainty in Apophis' predicted location in 2029 by 98%.

While trajectory knowledge was substantially corrected by the Arecibo data, a small estimated chance of impact (less than 1 in 45,000 using standard dynamical models) remained for April 13, 2036. With Apophis probably too close to the Sun to be measured by optical telescopes until 2011, and too distant for useful radar measurement until 2013, the underlying physics of Apophis' motion were considered to better understand the hazard.

The study did NOT compute new impact probabilities. This is because important physical parameters (such as mass and spin pole) that affect its trajectory have not yet been measured and hence there are no associated probability distributions. The study characterizes how the Standard Dynamical Model can over or under-estimate impact probability for those objects having close planetary encounters prior to the potential impact.

The situation is similar to having 6 apples (the measured Apophis parameters) and 6 boxes whose contents are unknown (the unmeasured Apophis parameters), then trying to compute the probability one has a total of 12 apples (impact probability). The result reflects back what is assumed about the unknown contents of the boxes, but doesn't reveal new information. The contents of the boxes must be observed (measured) to learn something new.

For similar reasons, the Apophis study instead uses the minimum and maximum range-of-effect in place of computing impact probabilities to provide reasonable criteria for excluding impact in the absence of detailed physical knowledge, once new position measurements are obtained at six key times.

The future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth's gravity field.

This is within the distance of Earth's geosynchronous satellites. However, because Apophis will pass interior to the positions of these satellites at closest approach, in a plane inclined at 40 degrees to the Earth's equator and passing outside the equatorial geosynchronous zone when crossing the equatorial plane, it does not threaten the satellites in that heavily populated region.

Using criteria developed in this research, new measurements possible in 2013 (if not 2011) will likely confirm that in 2036 Apophis will quietly pass more than 49 million km (30.5 million miles; 0.32 AU) from Earth on Easter Sunday of that year (April 13).

by Bronze Member on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Thank Gods above I'll be dead by
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by Kim on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:11 PM


Quoting LauraKW:

Ha! I think I like you. Serious note, I was reading about this earlier today. What would we actually as a planet do if this were going to hit?

 We would send Bruce Willis to kill the asteroid.

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