Recently, astronomers have been checking on an asteroid that will give Earth a near-miss in the not so distant future. The astronomers captured images of the massive 880 foot asteroid using the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory 2029.
According to a report from Red Orbit on Jan. 9, it was previously believed that the asteroid, called Apophis, had a 2.7% chance of an impact with our planet in the year 2029. However, new findings have dismissed any chance of a potential collision with Earth. Experts still think that the asteroid could come as close as 18,300 miles from Earth in 2029. For comparison's sake, this distance is much closer than the Earth is to the moon as well as the orbiting geostationary satellites around our planet.
Although a 2029 impact has been ruled out, astronomers have just recently gathered enough data to see if they can dismiss a 2036 collision also. Apophis will also make a close approach to Earth in 2036. The data collected over the weekend is expected to give astronomers an idea of whether an impact in 2036 can be ruled out without a doubt. Here is what Laurence O’Rourke, the principal investigator of the MACH-11, had to say:
“As well as the data being scientifically important in their own right, understanding key properties of asteroids will provide vital details for missions that might eventually visit potentially hazardous objects.”