Mark your calendars: Prepare for their last good look at asteroid Apophis before 2029 flyby
Officially known as 99942 Apophis , the space rock is wider than three football fields, and at one point, scientists estimated it had about a 3 percent chance of hitting Earth during an upcoming close pass in 2029.
After searching through some older astronomical images, scientists ruled out the possibility of a 2029 impact. It’s now predicted the asteroid will safely pass about 19,800 miles (31,900 kilometers) from our planet’s surface.
Accordingly to the European Space Agency only one known asteroid has a greater than one-in-a-hundred chance of hitting us. That’s little eight-meter (26 foot) wide asteroid 2010 RF12. It’s currently estimated to have about a 7 percent chance of impacting Earth in the year 2095.
On March 5, 2021, the big rock will make a close approach as well. Although this time around it will stick more than 40 times further away than the moon, it will be the nearest Apophis to arrive between now and 2029, and scientists are taking advantage of the chance to investigate the future bringer of confusion a little closer.
Scientists will be using this year’s flyby as a sort of test run for the big day in 2029, which’ll be a historic opportunity to observe a true cosmic big fella up close.