The 370m-wide asteroid is potentially on a collision course with Earth – and NASA is unable to completely rule out a strike. The Apophis God of Chaos asteroid is named after the Ancient Egyptian god of evil, darkness and destruction. It is bigger than the Shard in London and impact could have major consequences. If the 27bn kilogram asteroid were to hit Earth, scientists calculate it would leave a crater more than a mile wide and a staggering 518 metres deep.
However, most worryingly, the impact would be equivalent to 880million tons of TNT being detonated – 65,000 times as powerful as the nuclear bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima.
When the space rock was first discovered in 2004, NASA was concerned that it would hit Earth in 2029, stating there was a 2.7 percent chance of impacting the planet.
However, by studying its orbit of the Sun, the space agency was eventually able to effectively rule this impact out.
But experts across the globe are still worried about a potential impact on April 12, 2068.
NASA has also given Apophis a one in 150,000 chance of colliding in 2068.
While the chances of the asteroid hitting Earth are slim, one expert warned it is more likely to strike than of a person being killed in an airplane crash.
Bryan Walsh, author of the new book End Times which analyses the existential threats which humanity faces, said in his new book: “The chance of Apophis hitting Earth over the next century is a microscopic 0.00089 percent as of 2019 – though that is higher than your chance of dying in a plane crash.”
However, a spate of aviation disasters over the last few years is sure to make the public nervous.
Since the start of 2016, there have been 12 commercial airline disasters which have resulted in at least 50 fatalities.
Experts at NASA will use the next few flybys to study the asteroid and its flight path in better detail.
Radar NASA scientist Marina Brozovic said: “The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science.”
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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.”
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