The essentials The asteroid Apophis, discovered on June 19, 2004, will pass near Earth this Saturday. The opportunity for astronomers to gain some knowledge about it.
It takes its name from the Egyptian god of chaos. However, if the asteroid Apophis has scared the scientific community a little, it has very little chance of hitting Earth this Saturday, March 6th (roughly one in 220,000). The star machine, which measures 340 meters (a little more than the Eiffel Tower), will cross our planet’s road before moving away, to better get closer in eight years.
When this “big pebble” was discovered in 2004, the scientific community wiped a cold sweat: it was estimated that the risk of impact projected for 2029 was 3%. During the first passage near Earth, scientists were able to calm down about the impossibility of contact until 2036. This Saturday, the astronomers intend to renew their study of the “near-earth” environment and point their lenses in its direction. Since Apophis will be “only” 17 million kilometers from Earth on Saturday and experts will use this to define its shape more clearly, calculate its location more precisely and better observe how it turns itself on.
In 2029, the asteroid will be only 38,000 km from Earth
The data collected will allow researchers to prepare for the next passage of Apophis, which is far more impressive. On April 13, 2029, the asteroid will be only 38,000 km away, or a tenth the Earth-Moon distance at an altitude where we can find artificial satellites. On this occasion, the asteroid is visible to the naked eye. Admire this star machine because its sudden proximity to our planet can cause it to be deformed by Earth’s gravity, which can also affect its rotation.