An asteroid of the "DOOMSDAY" that bears the name of the Egyptian god of chaos could destroy our planet in our lives, and has forced to bring together some of the brightest scientists in the world.
The fugitive space rock, Apophis, has the size of seven London buses and will approach our planet several times over the next century in a worrying way.
Some experts think that the asteroid will reach our planet during one of these overflights, while others say that the chances of impact are unlikely.
Apophis is being discussed this week by space scientists at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in Maryland, USA. UU
Among other topics, experts are discussing the best way to study Apophis, as it accelerates beyond the Earth on its next flyby on April 13, 2029.
The chat follows yesterday's warning from NASA's chief chief that a catastrophic asteroid attack on Earth could occur in our lives.
Apophis is expected to sail without causing damage to Earth in 2029, rising about 19,000 miles above the surface, at the distance that some satellites orbit around the Earth.
It is rare for an asteroid of this size to pbad through Earth so close. When it does, Apophis will appear as a bright vein across the sky like a shooting star.
"The close approach of Apophis in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," said Dr. Marina Brozovi, a NASA scientist.
"We will observe the asteroid with optical and radar telescopes." With radar observations, we could see details of the surface that are only a few meters in size.
Scientists are debating whether to use the unusual opportunity to send a spacecraft to the traveling rock.
In particular, they are interested in seeing how Earth's gravity affects the trajectory, spin and surface characteristics of Apophis.
The work could also help us defend against future asteroid attacks.
"Apophis is a representative of some 2,000 potentially dangerous asteroids currently known," said NASA chief near Earth, Paul Chodas.
"By observing Apophis during its flyby in 2029, we will obtain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense."
Since its discovery in 2004, NASA and other scientists have closely followed the path that Apophis takes around the Sun.
The readings help predict possible future collisions with the Earth as it revolves around the star, and scientists are divided over the danger posed.
Recently, Russian scientists warned that Apophis, full name Apophis 99942, could crash into Earth at speeds of 15,000 miles per hour.
They said that the path of the end-of-the-world rock around the Sun means that there are "100 possible collisions between Apophis and Earth, the most dangerous of them in 2068."
However, NASA remains unconvinced.
"Current calculations show that Apophis still has a small chance of impacting Earth, less than 1 in 100,000 in many decades," said Dwayne Brown of NASA.
"You can expect future measurements of your position to rule out any possible impact."
What is the difference between an asteroid, a meteorite and a comet?
This is what you need to know, according to NASA …
- Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits around the Sun. Most are in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but can be found anywhere (even on a path that can affect the Earth)
- Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small pieces that break are called meteoroids
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it begins to vaporize and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it will look like a ray of light in the sky, because the rock is burning.
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid does not vaporize completely and survive the journey through Earth's atmosphere, it can land on Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite.
- Kite: Like the asteroids, a comet orbits the sun. However, instead of being made mostly of rock, a comet contains a lot of ice and gas, which can lead to incredible tails forming behind them (thanks to the formation of steam and dust).
On Monday, the head of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, called for a global study to be urgently launched on the threat posed to humanity by a large asteroid collision.
And the administrator of NASA asked the world powers to begin preparations for the impact of weather events immediately.
Mr. Bridenstine said: "We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it's not about movies.
"Ultimately, this is about protecting the only planet we know, right now, to house life and that is the planet Earth"
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In other space news, NASA's solar probe, Parker, is currently "sinking into the sun" at 213,000 miles per hour as part of a bold investigation into the star of our solar system.
The space agency is also on track to find extraterrestrial life in the coming decades, but warns that "it is not likely to give them a hand."
And NASA hopes to send the astronauts back to the Moon by 2024.
Are you worried about asteroid attacks? Let us know in the comments!
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