A giant asteroid recently drifted past Earth, which one of the several near-Earth objects that have reached our planet since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, NASA has predicted an additional giant asteroid expected to arrive in 2029.
The asteroid's proximity to Earth may affect its return visit in 2036, with potentially disastrous consequences. Said celestial body is identified as 99942 Apophis, named after the Egyptian God of Chaos. It was seen traveling Earthbound at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour.
The gravitational pull of the Earth may bring Apophis closer to us. This means when it returns in 2036, it will be on a closer collision course with our planet.
The group of scientists from NASA surmises that Apophis would be coming in close to Earth by the 13th of April, 2029.
To prepare, MIT researchers have developed a system that could aid in discovering the best possible method to avoid a collision - long before the situation becomes hopeless.
A decision map was developed by an MIT team headed by former MIT graduate student Sung Wook Paek in newly published research that would take into account the mass and relative momentum of an approaching asteroid. This includes the predicted time we have before it enters into a so-called keyhole -- basically a gravitational halo around Earth.
In the journal "Acta Astronautica," MIT researchers applied their hypothetical deflection methods to the astroids Apophis and Bennu, an asteroid currently being studied by a NASA mission to return a sample material of its surface to Earth in 2023. The method could be useful in deflecting any potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroids.
According to Sung Wook Paek, lead author of the study, "People have mostly considered strategies of last-minute deflection when the asteroid has already passed through a keyhole and is heading toward a collision with earth."
"I'm interested in preventing keyhole passage well before earth impact. It's like a preemptive strike, with less mess."
The media has viewed this space rock as a planet executioner due to how close it can get.
Astronomers say Apophis is one of the largest asteroids to cross that close to Earth's orbit in the next decade. Reports suggested that this asteroid has the capacity to destroy a complete planet with its collision, given that large asteroids such as Apophis are classified as Potentially Hazardous Objects or PHOs.
They could make tremors and waves transpire, or pulverize whole urban areas or possibly nations, sufficiently murdering thousands or a considerable number of individuals all the while.
Apophis, analysts said, will likely pass by the planet due to the direction of the space rock. This direction may change during its movement alongside the gravitational pulls, flotsam, and jetsam found in space from other encompassing planets and moons.
A solution to stop asteroids is to blast the rock with a nuclear bomb, but that risks pelting the planet with radioactive fallout.
Another way is to smash a 'kinetic impactor' spacecraft into it and therefore changing the object's trajectory.
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