Asteroid Apophis will definitely not strike Earth in 2036

First Posted: Jan 11, 2013 09:48 PM EST

Another doomsday option passed away, since refined calculations yielded the result that the Earth-threatening asteroid Apophis won't impact our planet with the force of a multitude of nuclear warheads in 2036. As the asteroid flew by Earth this Wednesday, detailed observations showing the exact projected path could be made, announced NASA. Astronomers previously warned that the asteroid, which is three and a half football fields in size, could possibly strike Earth in 2036 with catastrophic consequences.

Apophis was discovered in June 2004, and gained notoriety as the "doomsday" asteroid, hence its name of the dark god, after a study suggested it had a 2.7 percent chance of hitting Earth in 2029. While further studies dismissed the idea of a 2029 crash, scientists remained unsure of its 2036 passing until now.

New observations of the large asteroid could be recorded during the rather distant 15 million kilometer flyby on January 9 by the Magdalena Ridge (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) and Pan-STARRS (University of Hawaii) optical observatories.

Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, said in a statement, "The impact odds as they stand now are less than one in a million, which makes us comfortable saying we can effectively rule out an Earth impact in 2036." He added, "Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future."

The asteroid will return to come very close to Earth on April 13, 2029, passing by within merely 31,200 kilometers, NASA announced.

Yeoman added, "But much sooner, a closer approach by a lesser-known asteroid is going to occur in the middle of next month when a 40-meter-sized asteroid, 2012 DA14, flies safely past Earth's surface at about 17,200 miles (27,700 km). With new telescopes coming online, the upgrade of existing telescopes and the continued refinement of our orbital determination process, there's never a dull moment working on near-Earth objects."

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