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Scientists issue update on how threatening ‘God of Chaos’ asteroid is to Earth

Scientists issue update on how threatening ‘God of Chaos’ asteroid is to Earth

The massive asteroid is the size of a football pitch.

Asteroids hurtling close to Earth are already a pretty terrifying prospect - so you can only imagine how scary one is if it's been given the nickname the 'God of Chaos'.

Its real name is Asteroid 2008 OS7, or Apophis, and it measures around 890 feet in diameter - meaning it's the size of a football pitch.

Apophis is classified as a 'potentially hazardous asteroid' (PHA) - this is what NASA calls anything that's over 460 feet in size, with an orbit that brings them as close as within 4.6 million miles of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

RomoloTavani / Getty
RomoloTavani / Getty

According to Dr Minjae Kim, Research Fellow at the University of Warwick's Department of Physics: "The next significant approach to Earth by a PHA will be the 99942 Apophis on April 14 2029.”

We don't exactly fancy our chances against a massive space rock the size of a football pitch, so how worried should we actually be?

Dave Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi's Institute for Astronomy, has been tracking the motion of Apophis in the sky since his team discovered it in 2004.

"We have known for some time that an impact with Earth is not possible during the 2029 close approach," he said in 2020.

It will be remarkable in that the asteroid will be visible to the unaided eye - meaning it's close, but it's unlucky to actually hit us.

Tholen continued: “The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they 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.”

FYI - NASA says the Yarkovsky effect 'can cause rotating asteroids to drift widely over time'.

So, the good news is that astronomers aren't expecting Apophis to hit us in 2029 - but perhaps we should mark our diaries, as it could come even closer in 2068.

And you can be sure that scientists are keeping a close eye on the asteroid, just in case.

Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / Contributor / Getty
Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / Contributor / Getty

NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is currently on its way to Apophis to collect samples for further research - it's set to touch down in 2029.

It comes after Osiris-Rex took samples from another asteroid, Bennu - which NASA administrator Bill Nelson said would provide “an extraordinary glimpse into the beginnings of our solar system”.

Featured Image Credit: Maciej Frolow / Getty