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Impact Possible: Giant Asteroid To Come Close To Earth In 2029

First Posted: Jun 27, 2017 04:53 AM EDT
Large Asteroid 2014 JO25 Makes Near-Earth Pass
Las Vegas Astronomical Society vice president of special events Keith Caceres uses computer software connected to his telescope to locate asteroid 2014 JO25 outside the Planetarium at the College of Southern Nevada on April 19, 2017 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo is a representation, not an actual visualization of the Apophis asteroid.)
(Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A 40-million-ton asteroid is expected to fly close to Earth in 2029, and there is a possibility that a collision will occur. The asteroid called Apophis will pass by the planet from around 18,600 miles away on April 13, 2029. While this seems far away by Earth standards, it is actually close in space distance standards.

According to The Daily Caller, its nearness to Earth could disrupt the asteroid's orbit and therefore makes its future path unpredictable. There is a possibility that it could hit Earth on a future pass, which is by 2036 when it is expected to fly by the planet again.

If Apophis does strike Earth, it could create a massive crater that could be devastating. Such massive impact can be expected once every 80,000 years but could have the power to annihilate a city if it lands in an urban area.

The impact of the Apophis could equal to 880 million tons of TNT. This will be about 65,000 times the power of the atomic bomb that exploded in Hiroshima, Japan. Discovered by Roy A. Tucker, David J. Tholen and Fabrizio Bernardi in June 2004, the Apophis asteroid is about 370 meters in diameter.

Alberto Cellino of the Observatory of Turin in Italy was quoted by Phys.org to have said that scientists can rule out a collision for 2029 and even in April 2036. However, he also shared that its orbit "will change in a way that is not fully predictable just now, so we cannot predict the behavior on a longer timescale."

At this point, Alan Garris, a former Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher, said that there are no known asteroids that are on a collision course with Earth at the moment, but the imperfect orbits leave some probability of an impact in the future. However, due to its close but non-impacting pass by the Earth, the probability of impact trajectories remain low.

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