Asteroid no longer a threat

2013-01-11 08:45
A large asteroid that flies in nearly the same orbit as Earth will make a close pass by the planet, but there's no chance of an impact. (Nasa, JPL, AP)

A large asteroid that flies in nearly the same orbit as Earth will make a close pass by the planet, but there's no chance of an impact. (Nasa, JPL, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Astronomy
    Learn about famous astronomers, the solar system, stars, and other aspects of astronomy Was R174.95 Now R148.71
    buy now
Washington - Upon further review, a big scary-sounding asteroid is no longer even a remote threat to smash into Earth in about 20 years, Nasa says.

Astronomers got a much better look at the asteroid when it whizzed by Earth on Wednesday from a relative safe 9 million miles away. They recalculated the space rock's trajectory and determined it wasn't on a path to hit Earth on April 13, 2036 as once feared possible.

At more than 323m wide, the rock called Apophis could do significant damage to a local area if it hit and perhaps even cause a tsunami. But it was not large enough to trigger worldwide extinctions.

One prominent theory that explains the extinctions of dinosaurs and other species 65 million years ago says a 9.6km-wide meteorite hit Earth and spewed vast amounts of dust into the air, cooling and darkening the planet.

About nine years ago, when astronomers first saw Apophis, they thought there was a 2.7% chance that it would smack into our planet. Later, they lowered the chances to an even more unlikely 1 in 250 000.

Closer look

Now it's never mind.

"Certainly 2036 is ruled out," said Donald Yeomans, manager of Nasa's Near Earth Object Programme. "It's why we track them so we can be assured that they won't get dangerously close."

Yeomans said now the asteroid, named after an evil Egyptian mythical serpent, won't get closer than 31 200km. That's still the closest approach asteroid watchers have seen for a rock this large. And when astronomers got a closer look they noticed it was about 54m larger than they thought, but not a threat.

Asteroids circle the sun as leftovers of failed attempts to form planets billions of years ago. When asteroids enter Earth's atmosphere, they become meteors and when they hit the ground they are meteorites.

This is the second time in as many months the asteroid watchers have had good news for Earth. In December, astronomers got a closer look at a smaller asteroid that they had previously calculated had a 1 in 500 chance of hitting Earth, this time in 2040. And they decided the 140m asteroid was no longer a threat.

If you still want to see a space rock come cosmically close to Earth, there's always next month.

On 15 February, a small asteroid, only 40m wide, will come close to Earth, about 27 350km above the equator. That's so close it will come between our planet and some of the more distant satellites that circle the globe. But it will miss Earth.

"This will be the closest passage of an object this size," Yeomans said.

That asteroid, called 2012 DA14, should be visible with smaller telescopes and binoculars, but mostly in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia, he said.
- SAPA

Read more on:    astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1455.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.