Scientists and astronomers are getting ready for a large 275 m wide asteroid to make a cosmically close approach to the Earth today. The asteroid is called Apophis, named after a mythological Egyptian demon. The asteroid won’t get any closer than roughly 9,000,000 miles from the Earth and there is no chance of the asteroid hitting the planet this time around.
Doomsday theorists might get a kick out of the fact that there is a chance, albeit very small, that in 2036 Apophis could hit the Earth. Scientists plan the use the asteroid’s pass by the Earth today to help gauge exactly how big the threat of collision is in 2036. While 9,000,000 miles is a very long distance from Earth, in 2029 this asteroid is expected to pass the Earth at a distance of only 30,000 km.
30,000 km is significantly closer to the Earth than roughly 9,000,000 miles. To put that in a bit more perspective, 30,000 km will put the asteroid inside the orbit of some communication satellites. Back in 2004 scientists predicted that this asteroid had a one in 45 chance of hitting the Earth in 2029. Revised predictions have eliminated the threat.
I’m sure more than a few of you are curious exactly how significant the impact would be if Apophis struck the Earth. According to NASA scientists, Apophis would generate a blast equivalent to over 500 megatons of TNT. By comparison, the most powerful hydrogen bomb ever detonated on earth was the Soviet Tsar Bomba and it only released 57 megatons of energy.