Its like kinda Apophis brings lot of worries to Anatoly Perminov, Russia’s space agency chief, that’s why he has made announcement to dispatch a spacecraft to knock down the asteroid and reduce the chances of collision with the planet, even though U.S. scientists say such a scenario is unlikely. It’s not like that I worry a lot about approaching asteroids, meteors and stuff but being interested in astronomy, I certainly take a notice of such events.
Apophis is a near earth asteroid of around 200 mts revolving around the sun, it caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initially the observations indicated its chances of striking the planet, but due to the Tsunami in southern Asia, the Apophis got not much attention and was buried under the Tsunami News doing rounds on all the television networks, it was near the planet around 26th December and probably Apophis was the culprit of the massive earthquake in Indonesia. It is now predicted that Apophis has a chance of striking the planet in 2029 though its about level 1 in Torino Impact Hazard Scale (a scale to measure whether the approaching meteor will collide with the planet or not in 1-10).
However there is a possibility it will pass through a gravitational keyhole (a precise region in space of no more than a few hundred mts) that would affect the orbit and will set the future impact 7 years later on April 13th 2036, and this time its no fun discussing the impact and writing sci-fi stories on asteroid collisions (I have also written one such article in my blog) because this time its level 4 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale.
Coming back to the point, Anatoly Perminov told a Russian radio the space agency would hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis. He said his agency might eventually invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency and others to join the project. (heh heh)
NASA is more confident of the impact of 2036 than 2029, it has put the chances that Apophis could hit Earth in 2036 as 1 in 45,000. After researchers recalculated the asteroid’s path, the agency changed its estimate to 1 in 250,000. It has also predicted a close encounter in 2068 (if it even doesn’t collide in 2036) but its too early to worry about it.
Without mentioning the above NASA’s conclusions, Perminov said that he heard from a scientist that Apophis is getting closer and may hit the planet. “I don’t remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032,” Now, I would have taken this all seriously if he would have mentioned at least the year correctly for it has little chances of hitting before 2036. (And till now I thought that it was just in India where publicity stunts are done by people associated with the government)