We can all relax, at least for now.
Despite the numerous warnings in tabloids around the world that an asteroid will impact our planet creating catastrophic, world-ending scenarios, NASA has revealed that we can all relax.
According to recent reports by the American Space Agency, no known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with the Earth in the next 100 years.
Different media have written worrying articles about the approach of the asteroid 99942 Apophis, nicknamed “God of Chaos”, which will skim past the Earth in 10 years.
But unlike some suggestions by different tabloids, the Asteroids which is 240 meters in diameter will miss the Earth, and astronomers have calculated that the space rock is expected to pass at around 30,500 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. Although this is really close, there are no risks that the asteroid will impact the Earth.
Apophis is one of the largest asteroids that passes so close to the Earth’s surface. A collision with between the massive space rock and the planet has the potential to be devastating for all life on Earth.
Usunrpinsgly perhaps, British newspaper The Express has published that NASA has begun preparations for this event, and is attentive to changes in its trajectory that may increase the risk of future impact against Earth.
But contrary to what the Express has reported, at the moment, NASA reports on its website that the greatest impact risk for a known asteroid is a 1 in 714 probability of impact by an asteroid dubbed FD 2009 in 2185, which means that the possibility that it can impact is lower than 0.2 percent.
The sentinel impact risk table, maintained by the NEO Study Center of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is continually updated as new asteroids are discovered and more known asteroids are observed.
Watch out for Bennu
Of the numerous asteroids that NASA studies, asteroid Bennu is being closely observed.
This cosmic body has a 1 / 2,700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2195. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will complete a 2-year investigation of Bennu before extracting a sample of material from its surface and return it to Earth.
In addition to collecting a sample, OSIRIS-REx will also study how the light absorbed by the Sun and re-irradiated by Bennu affects its orbit and, consequently, how that orbit could become more dangerous for the Earth.
Studying Near-Earth Objects
A Near-Earth Object, as the very name suggests, is an asteroid or comet whose orbit brings it into or through a tone between approximately 91 million and 121 million miles (195 million kilometers) from the Sun, meaning that it can pass within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit, reveals NASA.
The vast majority of Near-EArth objects studied by NASA have originated from the inner parts of the solar system’s inner asteroid Belt, a region in space between Mars and Jupiter. These objects have seen their orbits changed over tens of millions of years thanks to the gravitational influence exerted on them by both Jupiter and Mars. Some of the orbits of these objects changed due to mutual collisions.
Eventually smaller NEOs make their way towards the Earth and the moon. And some of them enter Earth’s atmosphere but end up disintegrating before reaching the surface. However, NEOs that are larger than 30 to 50 meters (98 to 164 feet) could cause widespread damage if they impact the surface.
According to NASA, a PHO, or Potentially Hazardous Object is a near-Earth object that travels withing 4.7 million miles (7.5 million km) of Earth’s orbit and is greater than 500 feet (140 meters) in size.