EARTH (WETM) – It’ll show up a few more times before 2029, but when it does, the people of Earth won’t have anything to worry about. However, when scientists first discovered the asteroid 99942 Apophis almost 20 years ago, they were shocked to see that it had a concerningly-high chance of hitting the earth.
The story of Apophis starts in 2004. The 1,100-foot rock was picked up by scientists in the summer, and it was nothing remarkable, according to Scientific American. But in a matter of months, calculations of its orbit determined it had a 1-in-37 (2.7%) chance of hitting Earth in April 2029. The magazine says this made it the most dangerous asteroid in recorded history.
But a few years later, scientists determined it would not hit Earth in 2029. They couldn’t, however, rule out an impact in 2036. Then in 2013, more observations ruled out a 2036 impact.
For eight years, there was still a chance it could hit the planet in 2068, but NASA says in March 2021, radar data ruled out that possibility, as well.
So the people of Earth are safe from this space rock for at least a century. As such, it’s been removed NASA’s list of risks.
Still, in 2029, the asteroid is going to be close. One of the closest.
NASA says that come April 13, 2029, Apophis will be visible to the naked eye as it flies by less than 20,000 miles away. “This will be the closest approach to Earth by an asteroid of this size that scientists have known about in advance,” the agency says.
Plus, the asteroid is still being studied all the time. NASA says that astronomers are working to study how its 2029 encounter with Earth’s gravity will affect its future orbit to see if it could be more dangerous down the road.