The asteroid Apophis which flew past two days ago (on Friday 13th) has had its orbital path recalculated, and the results are in. Due to the deflection exerted on Apophis by the Earth’s gravity, a new simulation suggests a possibility of over 3% for impact with our planet in 2036.
Previous projections put the space rock in a ‘safe zone’ beyond the Moon, but now everything’s changed.
“We think that the conjunction [of Earth] with the Moon was sufficiently strong to nudge Apophis onto a new path,” tweeted Nasa’s Asteroidwatch. “It’s definitely shifted a bit.”
That shift could spell chaos for the world, as the 320-meter-wide asteroid would devastate entire cities, or throw up a gigantic tsunami if it plunged into the sea. A 5km crater would launch enough dust into the upper atmosphere to create an artificial winter and change the climate.
Appropriately named for the God of Chaos, Apophis passed close enough to oblige several high-orbit satellites to take evasive action, causing minor chaos among internet and telecoms operators, and was visible with the naked eye. After 2036, the next close encounter is scheduled for 2068.
Nasa is not worried though, as they have previously tested the DART spacecraft on a smaller asteroid, to re-direct its orbit. We’ve got seven years to fix this. Prophets of Doom, on the other hand, recall that when Apophis visited us in 2020, the world was struck with the Covid-19 pandemic.
That was chaos indeed!