Time to talk about space rocks and how they sometimes attack.
Several years ago, there was a whole lot of excitement that Earth might get hit by the asteroid Apophis if its orbit turned out to be just so. Well, March 8-10, its orbit and Earth’s came together, but at a healthy distance, and new measurements determined that it will not hit us in 2029, 2036, or even in 2068. Beyond that, there is still a risk. This 350-meter across asteroid is just big enough to do a lot of damage if it collides, and its Earth-crossing orbit crosses a bit too close to Earth for comfort.
Earth-crossing just means the orbits intersect; it doesn’t mean the objects intersect. In a best-case scenario, an asteroid crosses Earth’s orbit when the Earth is far away, like the other side of the Sun far away. Apophis, however, likes to get close and will endanger satellites as it flies beneath all the geostationary weather and comms satellites in 2029. With this new data, Apophis has been removed from the potentially hazardous to humans list, and I wait eagerly to see if we are able to get any cool images of it from weather satellites in 2029.
ESA press release