When I woke up this morning my inbox was full. I received two dozen messages from concerned citizens who heard about asteroid Apophis in the news this morning. When I checked Google News, I found quite a few “news reports“ claiming NASA issued a warning that our planet will be hit by asteroid Apophis in 2036. Those recent news reports are absolutely false. NASA did not issue such a warning. Asteroid Apophis will not hit us in 2036. Read an in-depth article about Apophis by one of our experts, here.
I did email our Asteroid Day Expert Panel this morning and got three replies.
First reply by Dr. Clark Chapman:
“I would point out that the JPL CNEOS center *is* the official NASA site for predicted impacts. This link shows no impact possibility in 2036 for Apophis. The highest impact probability (for a date in April 2068) is less than 1-in-100,000. Of course, there was a time, years ago, before more recent observations, when the possibility of Apophis impacting the Earth seemed to be much higher. But that is old news.“
Then Rusty Schweickart said:
“The probability that Apophis will impact Earth at any time in the next 100 years is, in fact lower than 1 in 100,000. And we know this because we’ve been tracking Apophis now for over 10 years with resultant improvements in our knowledge of its orbit each time we see it. Five years ago there was a very slight chance of a 2036 impact, but that, as Clark said, was based on our less accurate knowledge of its orbit back then. This is precisely why we continue to track and update the orbits of all the asteroids we have discovered… and why we must continue to do so.
What is most important is to continue the search for those near-Earth asteroids out there that we haven’t ever seen yet. Those are the potentially dangerous ones that will surprise us! Apophis is not only old news, but if, at some time in the distant future (>100 years!) Apophis is indeed headed for a close call with Earth, we’ll know about it decades ahead of time and can easily take preventive measures.“
“Just to add a piece of information, the 2036 impact was definitely ruled out thanks to observations in 2012-2013. It was then stated:
The new radar data, along with new optical astrometry, permits refinement of the 2036 Earth encounter, now nominally predicted to occur at a distant 0.388 au (about 150 lunar distances).“
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