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Tracking Asteroid Apophis's Near Miss and Future Trajectory

When the asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004, it was considered dangerous for Earth. At the time, scientists tracked its orbit and predicted that the asteroid had a slim chance of hitting Earth in 2029.

Apophis was discovered by astronomers David Theolen, Roy Tucker, and Fabrizio Bernardi at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. After further analysis, the prediction of Apophis hitting Earth in 2029 was ruled out. However, collision is still a concern as astronomers predict a small chance of impact on Earth in 2068.

On April 13, 2029, Apophis will pass less than 20,000 miles from our planet’s surface and will be the closest approach of an asteroid to Earth. Currently, there’s a spacecraft equipped with cameras named OSIRIS-REx. It’s currently on a mission to study a different asteroid Bennu, but it might be possible that by 2029, the spacecraft could observe Apophis. When Apophis gets close to Earth, OSIRIS-PEx’s cameras could take pictures of the asteroid up close and observe it.

Apophis is classified as an S-type, or stony asteroid, made up of silicate or other rocky materials, and a mixture of metallic nickel and iron. Like all asteroids, it is a remnant from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. It originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Its orbit was changed primarily by the gravitational influence of large planets like Jupiter so that now it orbits the Sun closer to Earth.

Although Apophis may come close to Earth, it will keep its distance for now. Scientists will continue to monitor its path and future encounters in space.

[Source: NASA]

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