Massive Apophis asteroid will flyby the earth next month

There are several disaster movies out there that show what it might be like if a giant asteroid or comet impacted the earth. Asteroids have hit the earth in the distant past, and one such impact is credited with wiping the vast majority of dinosaurs off the planet. One of the most concerning asteroids that passes through our solar system is known as Apophis.

Its official designation is 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4), and the ESA lists the asteroid is one of the ten riskiest out there. Apophis is the ancient Egyptian deity of chaos and darkness, and its asteroid namesake will make a close approach to the earth in 2029. Scientists estimate that it has approximately a three percent chance of hitting our planet when it makes that close approach, which is scant.

Scientists believe Apophis is about ten times the size of the meteor that exploded in Russia's atmosphere in 2013. That Russian meteorite exploded with enough power to shatter windows on the ground and injure hundreds of people. The ESA says there is only one known asteroid that has a greater than one in 100 chance of impacting the Earth, and it's not Apophis.

That asteroid is a 26-foot wide space rock known as 2010 RF12. That asteroid has about a seven percent chance of hitting the earth in 2095. However, its small size means most of it would burn up in the atmosphere, making it significantly smaller than the Russian asteroid in 2013.

While the slight chance of Apophis impacting the earth comes in 2029, it will make a close approach to the Earth on March 5 of this year. On that day, it will pass within 16.8 million kilometers of the Earth.