"keyhole" mentioned in this video is 600 meters not
Asteroid Apophis (Greek for the
Egyptian god, meaning destroyer), number 99942, first identified
in 2004 and designated 2004 MN4, was recently predicted to pass by
Earth in April 2013 and 2021, extremely close to Earth in April
2029, (within approximately 15,000 miles), and possibly impact
Earth in April 2035 or 2036.
Artistic Rendering of Apophis
A 400-meter Near-Earth Asteroid
Apophis 99942, is predicted to pass near the Earth on Friday April
13, 2029, it will be about 22,600 miles (36,350 kilometers) from
That is just below the altitude of geosynchronous
satellites, which hover in fixed perches above the planet to
communicate with and collect data on half the globe at all
Credit: Texas A&M University
A satellite in geosynchronous
orbit circles the earth once each day. The time it takes for a
satellite to orbit the earth is called its period.
satellite's orbit period to be one sidereal day, it must be
approximately 35,786 kilometers (19,323 nautical miles or 22,241
statute miles) above the earth's surface. That is a lot higher
than the Shuttle ever goes (usually about 300 kilometers).
David J. Tholen
Apophis was discovered on June 19,
2004, by Roy A. Tucker, David J. Tholen, and Fabrizio Bernardi of
the NASA-funded University of Hawaii Asteroid Survey from Kitt
Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
The odds of impact, presently
around 1 in 300, are unusual enough to merit special monitoring by
astronomers, but should not be of public concern. These odds are
likely to change on a day-to-day basis as new data are received.
In all likelihood, the possibility of impact will eventually be
eliminated as the asteroid continues to be tracked by astronomers
around the world. Ground-only tracking has a 99.8 percent chance of
eliminating any chance at all of an impact.
discovered, the object received the provisional designation 2004
MN4 (sometimes written 2004 MN4).
It received the name "Apophis"
as of July 19, 2005. Apophis is the Greek name of the Ancient
Egyptian god Apep, "the Destroyer", who dwells in the
eternal darkness of the Duat (underworld) and tries to destroy the
Sun during its nightly passage.
Although the Greek name for the
Egyptian god may be appropriate, Tholen and Tucker (two of the
co-discovers of the asteroid) are reportedly fans of the TV series
The show's main antagonist in the first several
seasons was an alien, a Goa'uld, named Apophis who sought to
enslave and destroy Earth.
The orbit of Apophis 99942 (2004
MN4) about the Sun is shown in blue. Much of the asteroid's orbit
lies within the Earth's orbit, which is the outermost white
circle. The positions of the asteroid and the Earth are shown for
December 23, 2004, when the object was about 14 million km (9
million miles) away from the Earth.
Animation showing the cloud of
possible positions of asteroid Apophis 99942 (2004 MN4) relative
to Earth in April 2029 is shown in white. The Moon's orbit is also
shown, for scale. A tiny portion of the cloud intersects the
Earth. The length of the cloud is directly related to current
uncertainties in our knowledge of this object's orbit.
The asteroid is about 320 meters
wide(1000 feet). That's big enough to punch through Earth's
atmosphere, devastating a region the size of, say, Texas, if it
hit land, or causing widespread tsunamis if it hit ocean.
NASA initially estimated the energy
that Apophis would have released if it struck Earth as the
equivalent of 1480 megatons of TNT. A more refined later NASA
estimate was 400 megatons. The impacts which created the Barringer
Crater or caused the Tunguska event are estimated to be in the
10-20 megaton range. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was the
equivalent of roughly 200 megatons. The exact effects of any
impact would have varied based on the asteroid's composition, and
the location and angle of impact.
Any impact would be extremely
detrimental to an area of thousands of square kilometres, but
would have been unlikely to have long-lasting global effects, such
as the initiation of an impact winter.
Apophis is the only asteroid that
ranks on the Torino scale - a Richter-style rating system adopted
by NASA in 1999 to rank asteroids in terms of their size, chance
of colliding with Earth, and level of damage they could do if an
impact occurs. Apophis is classified as a level-one threat, for
which "the chance of collision is extremely unlikely with no
cause for public attention or public concern." NASA continues
to refine its understanding of Apophis' course. Though the risk of
a collision is small, NASA is considering plans for thwarting
Apophis should future observations show it to be a threat.
The potential for a Apophis
smacking into the Earth in 2036 cannot be discounted.
compiled from The British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada,
UNEP, EPA and other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
Welch-Updated daily This Website is a project of the The Ozone Hole Inc.
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