Cosmic good news: NASA announced that Earth is free from danger for the next century from a particularly threatening asteroid.
The space agency said this week that new telescope observations ruled out any possibility that the asteroid Apophis will crash into our planet in 2068.
It’s the same 1,100-foot-long space rock that was supposed to come dangerously close to the planet in 2029 and again in 2036. NASA long ago ruled out any possibility of a collision on those two approaches. But it was still possible that there would be a crash in 2068.
Detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off NASA’s list of asteroids that pose a risk.
“An impact in 2068 is no longer possible, and our calculations do not show any risk of impact for at least the next 100 years,” said Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, in a statement Friday.
Scientists were able to refine Apophis’s orbit around the Sun thanks to radar observations this month, when the asteroid passed at a distance of 10.6 million miles.
Apophis will approach 20,000 miles on April 13, 2029, allowing astronomers to observe it in more detail.
“When I started studying asteroids after college, Apophis was the symbol for dangerous asteroids,” Farnocchia said. “It gives me some satisfaction to see him get off the risk list.”
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