Scientists had been saying for many years that it’s only a matter of time until a second Chicxulub impactor will hit Earth as it did during the age of the dinosaurs. The majority of space rocks that enter our planet’s atmosphere are harmless, indeed, but things can always get worse.
The Institute for Astronomy from the University of Hawaii raises awareness about a 1,000-foot-wide asteroid called Apophis that will approach Earth in the not-so-far future. Astronomers even concluded that the asteroid had increased its speed due to the Yarkovsky effect, meaning a force that affects the orbital motion of space objects. Due to the sunlight that heats up the asteroid, the object re-radiates the energy away as heat, and thus, in turn, creates a thrust.
Apophis will approach Earth in 2068
The chances are big that the space rock will safely miss our planet, but still, here’s what Dr. David Tholen has to say, an astronomer from the University of Hawaii:
The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis,
[T]hey show that the asteroid is drifting away from a purely gravitational orbit by about 170 meters per year, which is enough to keep the 2068 impact scenario in play. Small, but non-zero.
But just what exactly does ‘small’ mean in this case? According to the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale, the chances that Apophis will hit the Earth is 1 in 150,000.
There you have it, those of you who are apocalypse enthusiasts will have to count on something else to end life on Earth. Furthermore, 1,000 feet wide still represents a tiny measure. Scientists calculated that for a space rock to pose a threat to all life forms on Earth, it has to be about 96 km wide.