It may be 10 years away, but NASA is already preparing for the arrival of what is being called the “God of Chaos” asteroid, which is slated to skim past the earth in 10 years, according to Express. The asteroid has been named 99942 Apophis.
The asteroid is gargantuan, measuring 340 meters across, and will come within 19,000 miles of the earth’s surface. It’s one of the largest asteroids to ever pass so close to the earth and a collision with it could be “devastating for all life on earth”. No word on whether or not it’ll wipe out all student debt, however.
The asteroid will even get closer to the earth than most communication and weather satellites that are currently in orbit. These satellites are about 22,236 miles from earth.
Meanwhile, the asteroid is traveling at about 25,000 mph, meaning that if it were to be slightly jarred off of its course, it could be a catastrophe for the earth. The asteroid’s size and its proximity to the earth have resulted in it being categorized as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” (PHA). NASA scientists are aware that the asteroid’s trajectory could change between now and 2029, raising potential fears of a collision.
Should it not collide with earth, it’s expected to shine “exceptionally bright” and pick up speed as it passes our planet. It’s moving so fast that it will cross the width of the moon in a minute and will be as brightly lit as the stars.
Some researchers say that the rock is not a concern, however, and that there is just a 1 in 100,000 chance that it strikes the earth. Regardless, NASA has started studying it as it flies past our planet and has insisted it would be a great opportunity to learn about similar asteroids.
Radar NASA scientist Marina Brozovic said: “The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science.”
Astronomer Davide Farnocchia added:
“We already know that the close encounter with Earth will change Apophis’ orbit. But our models also show the close approach could change the way this asteroid spins and it is possible that there will be some surfaces changes, like small avalanches.”
The asteroid is predicted to first be visible over the southern hemisphere, shooting across the East Coast to the West Coast of Australia. From there, it’ll make its way around the world, crossing the Indian Ocean on its way to the United States. The closest it’ll get will be over the Atlantic Ocean during the evening in the United States. The asteroid is predicted to cross the ocean in an hour and then continue to fly off into space.
Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS concluded: “Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. By observing Apophis during its 2029 flyby, we will gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense.”