NASA flag FIVE asteroids en route TODAY, as scientists evaluate planetary defense mission against planet killer Apophis in 2029


NASA has sounded the “potentially dangerous object” alarm on five asteroids that are expected to be buzzing near Earth. It comes as the astronomical community discusses the threat posed by the “God of Chaos” asteroid Apophis.

By all accounts, 2020 has been a tough year and with the end in sight, it’s understandable that many are wondering if humanity will make it to 2021, so NASA’s warnings about incoming asteroid swarms are unwelcome news.

Not one but five asteroids will enter our cosmic courtyard on Monday.

The first is 2020 VR4, which measures 27 meters in diameter (about five giraffes) which will cross the planet at 2.2 million kilometers.

Shortly thereafter there will be the closest encounter of the space rock type, as the VM5 2020 the size of a telephone pole (11 meters), hums at 426,000 km. To put that into context, the average distance between the Earth and the Moon is around 239,000 miles (385,000 km), so it will be close but not too close for comfort.

At the rear are: the nine-meter 2020 VA3, at a distance of 4.2 million kilometers; the 13-meter 2020 VS1 at 2.8 million kilometers; and finally, it will be the 2020 VB3, which measures twice the height of Michael Jordan (or four meters) at 589,000 km.

However, these close passages pale in comparison to the threat posed by asteroid 99942 Apophis.

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Discovered in 2004, the 370-meter-long space rock ranks fourth on NASA’s Sentry list of the greatest asteroid threats to life on Earth. While the odds of Apophis hitting Earth in 2068 are somewhere in the region of one in 150,000, the asteroid is also expected to visit our planet in April 2029, and now the scientific community suspects this particular flyby may be much more. close to previously calculated.

The extreme close-up will be courtesy of Yarkovsky acceleration, a phenomenon in which an asteroid gains propulsion asymmetrically, while chemicals on the sun-exposed side expand and erupt, slightly altering its orbit through small explosions and bursts. of gas.

According to a presentation at the virtual conference of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences held by astronomer David Tholen of the University of Hawaii, Apophis’ close-up approach in April 2029 could re-enter the orbits of some of our communications satellites. .

“Knowledge is the planetary first line of defense and meeting Apophis in 2029 is an opportunity every thousand years”, says the Lunar and Planetary Institute, adding that discussions have already begun about the potential “Possible in situ missions” aboard the “Poster child of potentially dangerous asteroids.”

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