The imposing Asteroid Apophis is the third biggest space rock currently tracked by NASA’s automated warning systems. NASA estimates Apophis measures around 1,214ft (370m) across, making it a potentially cataclysmic threat to Earth. A 2018 White House report on the dangers posed by asteroids found objects on this scale threaten “regional” to “continental” damage upon impact.
If Asteroid Apophis arrived in the skies over Earth today, the brute force of impact would likely kill untold millions of people.
In a bid to safeguard our planet from the doomsday scenario, NASA keeps a watchful eye on the asteroid’s trajectory.
As a result, the US space agency has determined 10 dates on which there is a calculable risk of deadly impact.
If Apophis ends up hitting the planet on any of these dates, NASA said the force of impact would be equivalent to 1,200 megatons or 1,200,000 kilotons of kinetic energy.
For comparison, the US atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 detonated with the force of around 15 kilotons of TNT.
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At the point of atmospheric entry, the asteroid would then speed up to about 12.62km per second or 28,230mph (45,532km/h).
According to NASA’s Sentry monitoring systems, Asteroid Apophis weighs an incredible 67,240,989 tons (6,100,0000,000kg).
Will the Asteroid Apophis hit Earth on any of these dates?
Officially dubbed by astronomers 99942 Apophis or 2004 MN4, the giant space rock has been a keen object of study since its discovery 15 years ago.
Thankfully, NASA is yet to sound the alarm bells as there appears to be no significant risk of impact just yet.
In April 2060, there is a very small chance the space rock will divert its orbit straight into our home planet.
But the risk of impact is too small to lose any sleep over.
According to NASA, there are one-in-10 million odds of impact for that date.
In other words, there is a 0.000010 percent chance of impact or a 99.99999 chance the asteroid will miss.
There is a slightly higher chance of impact in 2065 with NASA giving the asteroid odds of about one-in-3.8 million.
The odds translate to a 0.000026 percent chance of impact or a 99.999974 chance the space rock will miss.
However, NASA’s overall odds off impact for the next 100 years are a much more terrifying one-in-110,000.
This means Apophis has a 0.00089 percent chance of striking the planet by the year 2103.
On April 13, 2029, the asteroid will make a close approach of our planet.
NASA’s asteroid expert Paul Chodas said: “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 defence.”